|Siemens Mobility’s SC-44 Charger locomotives are built in California. Photo: Eric Peterson|
I was hasty in my criticism.
Siemens Mobility’s SC-44 Charger locomotives are built in California just south of Sacramento at the company’s French Road factory, a 600,000 square-foot facility on a 60-acre campus. The factory employs more than 1,300 workers.
It takes about 45 days to build a Charger locomotive, and the company can make four at a time, Siemens says.
State-supported Amtrak routes, such as Pacific Surfliner, in California, and Amtrak Cascades, in Washington, have already pressed these SC-44 Charger locomotives into service.
Washington’s Charger locomotive #1402 led the inaugural run of Cascades Train #501, which derailed in December 2017 as it approached a bridge over Interstate 5 near Lakewood, WA. Three people died in the accident, and a number of automobiles on the freeway were crushed.
Ironically, speed is one advantage these Charger locomotives have over the locomotives they’ll replace. They can operate at up to 125 mph, compared to a top speed of 90-100 mph for the P42DC.
There are other advantages to the Siemens locomotives: more hauling power, increased reliability, less noise, lower emissions, and improved safety features, such as Positive Train Control, which was not in effect at the time of the Lakewood Cascades crash.
The Brats take over.
Give me old fashioned multi-chime horns sounding in the distance, a Mars light oscillating on the nose of an elegant EMD F7 streamliner, the thrum of its power plant reverberating through your bones as the locomotive passes, soot and smoke belching from its roof exhaust, the train running 16 hours late—this to me will always be true railroading.
Who wants to see Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint climbing into an upper bunk together, on a German-built diesel-electric train with Tier-4 emissions technology that runs on time? In case you do (see below) there's a pix of the couple from the movie "North by Northwest" circa 1959.
Less noise, crazy fast speeds, the promise of more reliable engines—it makes you wonder what the world is coming to.
|Amtrak to replace its aging fleet of General Electric P42DC locomotives (above).|
|Wait, how did Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint get into this blog? Talk about one track minds.|
|A P42DC locomotive leads the Sunset Limited out of Tucson|
|A Kansas City Southern F7 at Kansas City Union Station|
|A Santa Fe F7 in classic "war bonnet" paint scheme, Galveston, TX, Railroad Museum|
Eric Peterson's debut novel, “Life as a Sandwich,” was a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards. His most recent book, “The Dining Car,” won the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Popular Fiction, the San Diego Book Award Gold Medal for Best Published Contemporary Fiction, and the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Silver Medal for Literary Fiction. The story follows a former college football star who signs on as bartender and personal valet to a legendary food writer and social critic who travels the country by private railroad car. His books are available in better bookstores and online.