Sacramento-built electric locomotives head to East Coast
Siemens’ manufacturing plant in Sacramento was the site of a grand send-off Thursday for the 70th and final high speed electric locomotive bound for the Northeast U.S. and Keystone corridor.
The locomotives were produced at the facility in a $466 million partnership with Amtrak.
Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, and Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen were among nearly 100 people who bid farewell to the last of the new fleet of locomotives.
The locomotives will tow passenger coaches used by commuters and travelers in Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston and Philadelphia among other Northeastern cities.
The more efficient electrical system takes advantage of regenerative braking, or channeling electricity generated by using the brakes on the steel tracks. Regenerative braking alone accounts for 3 billion kilowatts of saved electricity, an estimated $300 million in savings for Amtrak, officials for both companies said.
Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said there were challenges in creating a replacement for Amtrak’s dilapidated and more than 25-year-old fleet. The project started in 2010.
“The ability to find anybody that builds a passenger electric locomotive in the U.S. – it just didn’t exist,” Boardman said. “We had to work together to get the right piece of equipment to do what we needed to do, which is provide mobility and reliability.”
The trains will travel at speeds of 125 miles per hour in the Northeast and 110 mph in the Keystone corridors. Safety features include extra front-end strength and a crumple zone, or an area of the train that absorbs part of the impact of a collision.
The Sacramento plant is the North American manufacturing headquarters for Siemens’ rolling stock, which includes light rail and locomotives. The company came to Sacramento 30 years ago to complete a major light-rail project, and decided to stay.
Siemens employs 850 people at the facility, 100 of whom were hired in the last year in part to help the completion of the locomotive project.
Matsui, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that this project with Amtrak continues California’s legacy as a national leader in energy-efficient technology.
“We have a wonderful railroad history here in Sacramento, and to have these locomotives built here, especially clean energy types, it’s going to be one of our future types of technologies that we have actually based here in Sacramento,” Matsui said.