Photos: Amtrak/Marc Glucksman/River Rail

ALC-42 Chargers 301 and 302 wait with an Amtrak P42 to head the westbound Empire Builder out of Chicago on February 8.

USA: Amtrak’s board of directors has approved the purchase of further Siemens Charger diesel locomotives, Vice-President & Chief Mechanical Officer George Hull announced on February 8.


Speaking at Chicago Union Station during a ceremony to mark the entry into service of the first two ALC-42s on the Chicago – Seattle/Portland Empire Builder, Hull confirmed that the operator intends to exercise the option for another 50 locomotives included in its 2018 contract for an initial 75 to be delivered by 2024.

Designed for a maximum of 200 km/h, the Tier-4 compliant ALC-42s are expected to be more fuel-efficient than the locos they replace, while reducing NOx emissions by more than 89% and particulate matter by 95%. They are intended to replace Amtrak’s General Electric P40 and P42 locomotives, some of which have been in service for more than 25 years, working both long-distance and state-sponsored routes. The initial order is being funded from a $850m allocation set aside in 2019 which will also fund a supplemental maintenance support agreement.


Being built at the Siemens Mobility plant in Sacramento, the 4 200 hp ALC-42s are the third variant of the Charger family, following the 4 000 hp SCB-40 locomotives for Brightline and the 4 400 hp SC-44s supplied for state-supported services in California, Washington and the Midwest. Via Rail Canada has also ordered a 4 200 hp variant. The long-distance locomotives have larger fuel tanks and a 1 000 kW head-end power supply rather than 600 kW for those used on shorter distance trains.

‘We take our commitment to sustainability seriously at Amtrak’, said Hull. ‘We’re focused on being the solution to get people out of cars and planes and onto rail for greater emissions reductions. While railroading is a small portion of the emissions picture nationally, we want to take these steps to be the cleanest passenger railroad operating diesel trains in North America, commuter or interstate. We’re dedicated to continuously seeking new and innovative technologies that provide solutions to meet transportation needs while reducing health and climate impacts.’

‘These new locomotives serve as another step forward to advance safe, clean, reliable, and efficient passenger rail across the country’, added Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose. ‘With President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, we’re positioned to make even more investments in modernising rail infrastructure that will make a difference in the lives of Americans.’