Bombardier–Alstom HHP-8

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Bombardier–Alstom HHP-8
Blue and silver locomotive with orange striping pulling six bilevel locomotives on triple-track
MARC No. 4915 at Odenton in 2014
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Builder Bombardier Transportation, Alstom[1]
Total produced Amtrak: 15
 • AAR B-B
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Wheel diameter 40 in (1,016 mm)
Minimum curve 76 m (249.34 ft)
Wheelbase 9 ft 4 in (2.84 m)
 • Truck 35 ft 3 in (10.74 m)
Length 67 ft 1 in (20.45 m) over couplers
Width 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m)
Height 14 ft 2 in (4.32 m)
Loco weight 222,000 lb (101 t)
Power supply Catenary
Electric system(s)
  • 12 kV 25 Hz AC
  • 12.5 kV 60 Hz AC
  • 25 kV 60 Hz AC
Current source Dual pantographs
Traction motors 4 × 1.5 MW (2,000 hp) Alstom 4-FXA-4559C
Loco brake
  • Electrical : regenerative and rheostatic brakes
  • Friction : two disc brakes per axle
Safety systems Cab signals, ACSES
Performance figures
Maximum speed 135 mph (217 km/h)
Power output 6,000 kW (8,000 hp) continuous
Tractive effort:
 • Starting 71,240 lbf (316.9 kN)
 • Continuous 56,200 lbf (250.0 kN)
  • Amtrak: 680-694 (formerly 650-664)
  • MARC: 4910-4915
Official name HSEL (High Speed Electric Locomotive)[2]

The Bombardier–Alstom HHP-8 (High Horse Power 8000) is a type of twin-cab electric locomotive manufactured by a consortium of Bombardier Transportation and Alstom for use by Amtrak and the Maryland Area Regional Commuter system. The locomotive's electrical drive technology is directly derived from the SNCF BB 36000 manufactured by Alstom.

A small class size and reliability problems with correspondingly high per capita maintenance and replacement costs caused Amtrak to seek service replacements for its fifteen units at the same time as the older EMD AEM7s after only a decade in service. MARC has plans to retire them as well.


amtrak HHP-8 #661 on the Northeast Corridor

The locomotives have a 6 MJ crash energy absorbance structure; the carbody is stainless steel.[3] The electrical traction system is directly derived from the system used on Alstom's BB 36000 Astride locomotives;[4] this includes four 1.5MW three phase asynchronous traction motors powered by GTO based inverters, with one inverter per motor; the electric system also allows regenerative and rheostatic braking.[3] The locomotives were designed for up to 217 km/h (135 mph) operation but are actually limited in service to FRA Tier 1 standards, operating up to 201 km/h (125 mph).[3][5]


Amtrak ordered 15 HHP-8s in 1996, at the same time as the order for the Acela Express trainsets; the locomotives have similar external styling as the Acela trainsets, but are designed to operate as true locomotives, hauling conventional passenger rolling stock. The units supplemented the EMD AEM-7s and allowed the retirement of the GE E60.[1][6]

The locomotive's original type designation was "HHL-8" for "HighHorsepower Locomotive, 8,000 (nominal) horsepower,[7] but at some point early in its service life was changed to the more intuitive HHP-8.

Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) also acquired six HHP-8s.[5] The locomotives are used on its electrified Penn Line (which is part of the Northeast Corridor) between Perryville and Washington, DC.[when?][citation needed]

From their delivery up until their retirement in November 2014 Amtrak operated 15 of the locomotives on the Northeast Corridor on Boston to Washington DC trains;[8] racking up approximately 1,000,000 miles each in service (based on 2009 figure).[9]

In 2002 Amtrak's fleet of 15 units was temporarily withdrawn along with the Acela Express trains due to cracks in components of the trucks.[10][11]

Amtrak's HHP-8's suffered from low reliability. As a result, replacement of the fleet at the same time as the older AEM-7 locomotives became actively considered after only one decade in service, since a large order for a standardized fleet would have price economies, and the resultant fleet would have lower overall maintenance costs. A replacement fleet of 70 locomotives starting delivery in 2012 was planned, with HHP-8s kept as a reserve in the short term.[9]

In October 2010 Amtrak ordered a fleet of 70 Siemens ACS-64 locomotives to replace both the HHP-8 and the older AEM-7 locomotives, with deliveries beginning in early 2013.[12] Amtrak retired its last HHP-8 on November 7, 2014. In mid-2015, Amtrak began the process of renumbering their retired HHP-8 fleet. The locomotives were renumbered to 680-694. This was done to avoid duplicate numbering with ACS-64s 650-664.

MARC has plans to retire their HHP-8 locomotives and replace them with Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives between 2017 and 2018.[13]


  1. ^ a b Cudahy, Brian J. (2002). Rails Under the Mighty Hudson (2nd ed.). New York: Fordham University Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0-8232-2190-3. 
  2. ^ McDonnell, Greg (2015). Locomotives: The Modern Diesel and Electric Reference (2nd ed.). Richmond Hill, Ontario: Boston Mills Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-77085-609-7. 
  3. ^ a b c d "APPENDIX 5 : Design Data : High Horsepower Electric Locomotive (for Amtrak, MARC)" (PDF). Bombardier Transportation. 
  4. ^ Jean-Marc Allenbach; Pierre Chapas; Michel Comte; Roger Kaller (2008), Traction électrique (in French), 1, Presses polytechniques et universitaires romandes, p. 328, ISBN 978-2-88074-674-2, La partie électrique de locomotives américaines (25 Hz/60 Hz) - 15 HHP-8 (AME 125) pour l'Amtrak et 6 pour le Maryland - est aussi directement dérivée 
  5. ^ a b "Caltrain Electrification Project" (PDF),, Section 4: ELECTRIC ROLLING STOCK EQUIPMENT POWER, High Horsepower Amtrak/MARC Locomotive, August 2000 
  6. ^ Simon, Elbert; Warner, David C. (2011). Amtrak by the numbers: a comprehensive passenger car and motive power roster, 1971-2011. Kansas City, MO: White River Productions. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-932804-12-6. 
  7. ^ Trains Magazine (September 1999). "From GG1 to E60 to AEM7 to HHL-8". 
  8. ^ Loomis, Jim (2011), All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide, Chicago Review Press, p. 140 
  9. ^ a b "Amtrak Fleet Strategy : Building a Sustainable Fleet for the Future of America’s Intercity and High-Speed Passenger Railroad" (PDF),, pp. 17, 21, 24, 37, 42, February 2010, archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-22 
  10. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (August 16, 2002). "Amtrak sideline more locomotives because of defect". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Phillips, Don (August 16, 2002). "High-Speed Trains Shut Down Again". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 15, 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ Amtrak (October 29, 2010). "Amtrak awards $466 million contract for 70 new electric locomotives" (PDF). Amtrak Press Release (Ref:ATK-10-141a). 
  13. ^ Editor-in-Chief, William C. Vantuono,. "MARC replacing electric locomotive fleet with high-speed diesels". Retrieved 2016-09-11. 

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