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Old 97.jpg
Amtrak #919 leads a Silver Meteor through Odenton, Maryland in 2010
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Designer Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA)
Builder General Motors Electro-Motive Division
Build date 1978 – 1988
Total produced 65
AAR wheel arr. B-B
UIC classification Bo'Bo'
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Length 51 ft (15.54 m)
Locomotive weight 101 short tons (90.18 long tons; 91.63 t)
Electric system(s) 11-13.5 kV 25 Hz AC Catenary
11-13.5 kV 60 Hz AC Catenary
25 kV 60 Hz AC Catenary
Current collection
Dual pantographs
Performance figures
Maximum speed 125 mph (201 km/h) for Northeast Regional
110 mph (177 km/h) for long-distance trains
Power output AEM-7DC and AC: 5,100 kilowatts (6,800 horsepower) maximum at rail
4,320 kilowatts (5,790 horsepower) continuous at rail[1][2]
Starting Tractive Effort:
AEM-7DC: 53,924 lbf (239.9 kN)[3]
AEM-7AC: 51,700 lbf (230.0 kN) to 43 mph (69 km/h)[4]
Continuous Tractive Effort:
AEM-7DC: 30,000 lbf (133.4 kN) @ 77 mph (124 km/h)[5]
AEM-7AC: 42,500 lbf (189.0 kN) @ 60 mph (97 km/h)
Operator(s) Amtrak, MARC and SEPTA
Number(s) AMT 901-902, 904-910, 912, 914-921, 923-929, 931-932, 934-953;
MARC 4900-4903;
SEPTA 2301-2307
Nicknames Toasters; Swedish Meatballs; Mighty Mouse; Little Volvos
Locale Amtrak's Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC, and Amtrak's Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia, PA and Harrisburg, PA

The AEM-7 is a twin-cab B-B electric locomotive that is used in the United States on the Northeast Corridor between Washington DC and Boston and the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. They were built by Electro-Motive Division from 1978 to 1988. In the Boston Mechanical Department of Amtrak they are known as "Meatballs" and in the Washington Mechanical Department they are known as ASEAs since some of their major parts and components were designed in Sweden by ASEA (Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget; translation: General Swedish Electrical Inc), which merged with Brown Boveri in 1988 forming ABB. They are also referred to as "toasters" by railfans, owing to their boxy appearance.[6] There are two versions of the AEM-7 as of 1999: the original AEM-7DC which has DC propulsion equipment and the newer, modified AEM-7AC which uses AC propulsion equipment.

70 new locomotives, designated the ACS-64, the Cities Sprinter, manufactured in California, will replace Amtrak's AEM-7ACs and have already replaced the HHP-8s and AEM-7DCs; they will enter service over several years, starting in 2013.[7] Amtrak unveiled the first new locomotive on May 11, 2013.[8]


Amtrak #916 at Union Station, Washington, D.C. in 1997

In the mid-1970s Amtrak looked for a successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 and ordered 26 General Electric E60s, which proved unable to safely exceed 90 MPH leaving Amtrak without a practical replacement for the GG1. Amtrak turned to existing European high-speed designs, and two were brought over for trials in 1977. One was a French CC 21000 class given number X996,[9] and the other was a Swedish Rc4, X995.[10] Amtrak favored the Swedish design, which became the base for the AEM-7. Amtrak ordered 30 AEM-7s in 1977 (Order Number: 776073) and 17 more in 1980 (Order Number: 806004).[11]


By 1978, the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors (EMD), now Electro Motive Diesel, began production. The bodies came from the Budd Company, with electrical, trucks and mechanical parts imported from Sweden. The first AEM-7 (900) went into service in 1979.

Between 1980 and 1982, 46 AEM-7s (901-946) went into service. This helped retire the GG1s from regular service. Amtrak ordered seven more AEM-7s in 1987 (Order Number: 876006), which were completed by 1988.


The AEM-7 weighs 101 short tons (90 long tons; 92 t), whereas the GG1 weighs 238 short tons (213 long tons; 216 t). With all the weight on eight drivers, the AEM-7 has a high horsepower to weight ratio (70 hp/short ton) and needs a sophisticated wheelslip control (Pressductor) system.


  • Locomotives 900 and 903 were destroyed in a fatal collision with a Conrail freight train in Chase, Maryland on January 4, 1987.
  • Locomotives 901 and 910 was damaged during the derailment in Secaucus, NJ on November 23, 1996.[12] 910 returned to service in 1998, while 901 was converted to AEM-7AC in 2000.
  • Locomotive 913 was heavily damaged by fire November 26, 2000 at Odenton MD and then removed from the active roster in February 2003.
  • Locomotive 930 was damaged by fire on June 29, 2003 in Elkton, MD and retired.
  • Locomotive 922 was seriously damaged by fire on July 8, 2003 in Boston, MA and scrapped on October 3, 2012.[13]
  • Locomotive 910 caught fire on October 5, 2007[14] and returned to service.
  • Locomotive 911 was seriously damaged by fire at the Wilmington, DE station on April 26, 2011 while leading the Silver Star northbound[15] and then retired.
  • Locomotive 933 was seriously damaged by fire at Union Station, Washington, D.C. on July 14, 2011[16] and then retired.

Current operations[edit]

Before the retirements of AEM-7s began, there were 47 active AEM-7s on the Amtrak roster, numbers 901 through 953 except 900, 903, 911, 913, 922, 930 and 933.[17] In addition to Amtrak, MARC and SEPTA also operate AEM-7s in commuter service, with 4 and 7 units respectively. The MARC units (4900-03) were built in 1986, and the SEPTA units (2301–07) were built in 1987. In October 2006, Amtrak, due to the upgrade of the Keystone Corridor between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, started running electrified "push-pull" service on its Keystone trains. Apart from Keystone trains between Philadelphia and New York, all Amtrak AEM-7s on the Northeast Corridor, regardless of direction, lead their trains (no push-pull operation). MARC, SEPTA, and Amtrak Keystone Service trains operate the AEM-7s in push-pull mode, with a cab car on one end of the train and the locomotive on the other end.


AEM-7AC 923 at Trenton

In 1999, Amtrak and Alstom began a remanufacturing program for Amtrak AEM-7s. Alstom supplied AC propulsion equipment, electrical cabinets, transformers, head-end power (HEP), and cab displays. The rebuild provided Amtrak with locomotives that had improved high end tractive effort and performance with longer trains. Amtrak workers performed the overhauls under Alstom supervision at Amtrak's shop in Wilmington, Delaware.[18]

Power and Propulsion[edit]

The power modules use water-cooled IGBT technology and provide about 5,000 kilowatts (6,700 horsepower) of traction power plus 1,000 kilowatts (1,300 horsepower) of HEP, an improvement over the 500 kilowatts (670 horsepower) HEP capacity of the original DC units, and enough for 12 Amfleet or Viewliner coaches. The traction motors (model 6 FXA 5856) are from Alstom's ONIX family of propulsion components, and have a maximum rating of 1,250 kilowatts (1,680 horsepower)-1,275 kilowatts (1,710 horsepower) and a continuous rating of 1,080 kilowatts (1,450 horsepower). Locomotive electric brake ratings are ~4,300 kilowatts (5,800 horsepower) in regenerative mode and ~2,200 kilowatts (3,000 horsepower) in rheostatic (resistor-only) mode. As such, the remanufactured AEM-7 is the world's first passenger locomotive with IGBT in service.[19][20]


The cab of the remanufactured AEM-7 was also upgraded. This was accomplished by adding two screens, one of which displays main functions and verifies operations; the other, failures and their location to improve locomotive diagnostics and availability.

History of conversion[edit]

These remanufactured AEM-7s are designated as "AEM-7AC"s. Between 1999 and 2002, 29 AEM-7s were converted to AEM-7ACs. Due to lack of funding and a change in Northeast Corridor top management, the AEM-7AC project ended in October 2002, and no further conversions were authorized. Five AEM-7ACs, 916, 918, 924, 901 and 905 (in chronological order), went under overhauls in FY 2006.[21]


AEM-7ACs are most easily distinguished from AEM-7DCs (the unmodified locomotives) by their roof appearance. All AEM-7ACs have their resistors scattered around the roof. Their air filters are located on the middle of the roof, where the resistors used to be. Smaller air conditioners are used at each end to make room for scattered resistors on the roof. For AEM-7ACs 916, 918, 924, 901 and 905 prior to their FY 2006 overhauls, their air filters were located around the sides of pantographs and like their DC counterparts, the resistors were on the middle of the roof.

Moreover, all AEM-7ACs except 916 are equipped with Graham-White electronic bells, while all AEM-7DCs and AEM-7AC 916 retain their original bells.

The 29 AEM-7ACs are 901, 904, 905, 908, 914, 916-921, 923-925, 927-929, 934-936, 938-944, 946 and 948.

ALP-44: Variant of the AEM-7[edit]

Main article: ABB ALP-44

The ABB ALP-44 is an electric locomotive built by ASEA Brown Boveri (Sweden) between 1990 and 1996. It was designed specifically for New Jersey Transit. At first glance, the two locomotives might look the same to a casual observer. Both the ALP-44 and AEM-7 are based on the same line of locomotives from ABB; the AEM-7 from the Rc4, and the ALP-44 from the Rc6 and Rc7 models.

ABB provided one ALP-44 to SEPTA in part settlement of claims for late delivery of the N-5 Norristown High Speed Line cars. The engine (numbered 2308) operates interchangeably with SEPTA's AEM-7 fleet.

Amtrak AEM-7 Roster[edit]

All AEM-7DCs have been retired. The last units active were 909, 926, 931, and 945; all were retired on April 14th, 2015.

Number Type Status Notes
900 AEM-7DC Destroyed 1987 - Wreck - Chase, MD
901 AEM-7AC Retired Reportedly in Wilmington DE for possible preservation
902 AEM-7DC Retired
903 AEM-7DC Destroyed 1987 - Wreck - Chase, MD
904 AEM-7AC Active
905 AEM-7AC Active
906 AEM-7DC Retired
907 AEM-7DC Retired
908 AEM-7AC Active
909 AEM-7DC Retired
910 AEM-7DC Retired
911 AEM-7DC Destroyed 2011 - Fire - Wilmington, DE
912 AEM-7DC Retired
913 AEM-7DC Destroyed 2000 - Fire - Odenton MD
914 AEM-7AC Active
915 AEM-7DC Retired
916 AEM-7AC Active
917 AEM-7AC Active
918 AEM-7AC Active
919 AEM-7AC Active
920 AEM-7AC Active
921 AEM-7AC Active
922 AEM-7DC Destroyed 2003 - Fire - Sharon, MA
923 AEM-7AC Active
924 AEM-7AC Active
925 AEM-7AC Active
926 AEM-7DC Retired
927 AEM-7AC Active
928 AEM-7AC Active
929 AEM-7AC Active
930 AEM-7DC Destroyed 2003 - Fire - Elkton, MD
931 AEM-7DC Retired Last revenue run of AEM-7DC - 4/14/15
932 AEM-7DC Retired
933 AEM-7DC Destroyed 2011 - Fire - Washington DC
934 AEM-7AC Active
935 AEM-7AC Active
936 AEM-7AC Active
937 AEM-7DC Retired
938 AEM-7AC Active
939 AEM-7AC Active
940 AEM-7AC Active
941 AEM-7AC Active
942 AEM-7AC Active
943 AEM-7AC Active
944 AEM-7AC Active
945 AEM-7DC Retired Last revenue run of AEM-7DC - 4/14/15
946 AEM-7AC Active
947 AEM-7DC Retired
948 AEM-7AC Active
949 AEM-7DC Retired
950 AEM-7DC Retired
951 AEM-7DC Retired
952 AEM-7DC Retired
953 AEM-7DC Retired

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20060325065654/http://www.transport.alstom.com/home/Products_and_Services/RAIL_VEHICLES/Subsystems/10741.EN.php?dir=/home/Products_and_Services/RAIL_VEHICLES/Subsystems/&docId=10741&languageId=EN&docLink=7647
  2. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20020524185151/http://hem.passagen.se/plf66/typer-exp/typer-export-aem7.html
  3. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20020524185151/http://hem.passagen.se/plf66/typer-exp/typer-export-aem7.html
  4. ^ http://www.sonic.net/~mly/Caltrain-Electrification/2000-08-Rolling-Stock-Draft/a7.pdf
  5. ^ http://i324.photobucket.com/albums/k329/mestevet/01671s11Kvsm.jpg
  6. ^ "Amtrak Orders Greener Locomotives". The New York Times. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  7. ^ http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/amtrak-awards-466-million-contract-for-70-new-electric-locomotives-106156093.html
  8. ^ Amtrak unveils locomotives to replace aging fleet, Associated Press, published in Yahoo News on-line, May 13,2013
  9. ^ "Amtrak's X996". Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  10. ^ Bengt Muten. "The original Swedish meatball - SJ Rc4 testing as Amtrak X995". Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  11. ^ "EMD electric order numbers". Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  12. ^ Robert D. McFadden (1996-11-23). "Amtrak Derailment in Secaucus Marsh Injures 32". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ George Pitz (2012-10-03). "Amtrak DC AEM7 922". rrpicturearchives.net. 
  14. ^ "Amtrak AEM-7 catches fire on Northeast Corridor". Trains News Wire (Kalmbach Publishing). 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  15. ^ "Amtrak engine catches fire". Delawareonline (Gannett Co.). 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-04-28. 
  16. ^ "Dave Statter" (2011-07-16). "Raw vidoo: Amtrak Locomotive catches fire at DC's Union Station". Statter 911. 
  17. ^ George Pitz (2012-08-26). "Amtrak DC AEM7's 922, 930, 911 and 933 retired, stored and cannibalized.". rrpicturesarchives.net. 
  18. ^ New life for an old workhorse, Railway Age, May 2000
  19. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20060325065654/http://www.transport.alstom.com/home/Products_and_Services/RAIL_VEHICLES/Subsystems/10741.EN.php?dir=/home/Products_and_Services/RAIL_VEHICLES/Subsystems/&docId=10741&languageId=EN&docLink=7647
  20. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20140804194342/http://www.uic.org/cdrom/2001/wcrr2001/pdf/sp/1_11/555.pdf Page 11
  21. ^ "Mechanical goals advance toward a state of good repair". Destination: Freedom Newsletter. 2006-05-08. 

External links[edit]