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Blue and silver locomotive with orange striping pulling six bilevel locomotives on triple-track
MARC No. 4911 at Odenton in 2014
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Builder Bombardier Transportation, Alstom[1]
Total produced Amtrak: 15 [1][2][3]
AAR wheel arr. B-B
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Wheel diameter new 1,016 mm (40.0 in)
Minimum curve 76 m (249.34 ft), 23.1355°
Wheelbase bogie center distance:
10.744 m (35 ft 3.0 in)
bogie wheelbase: 2.845 m (9 ft 4.0 in)
Length 20.447 m (67 ft 1.0 in) over couplers
Width 3.150 m (10 ft 4.0 in)
Height roof height pantograph down:
4.420 m (14 ft 6.0 in)
pantograph reach
7.468 m (24 ft 6.0 in)
Locomotive weight 99.790 t (98.214 long tons; 110.000 short tons)
Electric system(s) 12.5 kV 25 Hz AC Catenary
12.5 kV 60 Hz AC Catenary
25 kV 60 Hz AC Catenary
Current collection
Dual pantographs
Traction motors Alstom:[4] 4 fully suspended 1.5 MW (2,000 hp) Alstom Onix AC Traction Motors[citation needed]
Performance figures
Maximum speed design: 217 km/h (135 mph)
operating: 201 km/h (125 mph)
Power output 6,000 kW (8,000 hp) continuous
Tractive effort max. 316 kN (71,000 lbf)
continuous 250 kN (56,000 lbf)
Train heating (head end power) 480 V AC, 60 Hz, 3-phase, 1,000 kW (1,300 hp), 1,100 kVA[citation needed]
Locomotive brake Electrical : regenerative and rheostatic brakes
Electropneumatic : two disc brakes per axle,
Dynamic braking 150 kN (34,000 lbf)[citation needed]
Operator(s) Amtrak and MARC

Amtrak: 650-664 (renumbered to 680-694 after leaving service to make room for ACS-64s)

MARC: 4910-4915
Nicknames Hippos, Rhinos, Bananas[citation needed]
First run Amtrak: 1999-2001 [3]
Sources:[5] except where noted

The 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.

History and design[edit]

An initial order of 15 HHP-8s was made by Amtrak at the same time (~1999) as the acquisition of 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.[1][6] The units were ordered to replace Amtrak's GE E60s and supplement the aging EMD AEM-7.[1]

The locomotive's original type designation was "HHL-8" for "HighHorsepower Locomotive, 8,000 (nominal) horsepower." During an extended period when acceptance of the locomotives by Amtrak was delayed several months due to mechanical problems and electronic interference with cab signal systems in use on the Northeast Corridor, observers said, disparagingly, that the "L" in "HHL-8" stood for "Lousy." Amtrak officials were incenced by this and renamed the units "HHP-8" for "High Horsepower, 8,000 hp." Not long after this the problems were resolved and the engines entered service, but with a poor reliability record; see "Retirement from Amtrak service" below.

Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) also acquired six HHP-8s.[7] The locomotives are used on its electrified Penn Line (which is part of the Northeast Corridor) between Perryville and Washington, DC.[when?][citation needed]

The locomotives have a 6 MJ crash energy absorbance structure; the carbody is stainless steel.[5] The electrical traction system is directly derived from the system used on Alstom's BB 36000 Astride locomotives;[8] 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.[5] 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).[5][7]

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;[2] racking up approximately 1,000,000 miles each in service (based on 2009 figure).[3]

In 2002 Amtrak's fleet of 15 units was temporarily withdrawn along with Acela express trains due to cracks in components of the bogies.[9][10][11]

Retirement from Amtrak service[edit]

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.[3]

In 2009 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.


  1. ^ a b c d Cudahy, Brian J. (2002). Rails Under the Mighty Hudson (2nd ed.). New York: Fordham University Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0-8232-2190-3. OCLC 48376141. 
  2. ^ a b Jim Loomis (2011), All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide, Chicago Review Press, p. 140 
  3. ^ a b c d "Amtrak Fleet Strategy : Building a Sustainable Fleet for the Future of America’s Intercity and High-Speed Passenger Railroad" (PDF), www.highspeed-rail.org, February 2010: 17, 21, 24, 37, 42 
  4. ^ "Amtrak: A Relationship Built on Trust" (PDF), www.Alstom.com (Alstom Transportation) 
  5. ^ a b c d "APPENDIX 5 : Design Data : High Horsepower Electric Locomotive (for Amtrak, MARC)" (PDF). www.sonic.net. Bombardier Transportation. 
  6. ^ Wortman, Marc; Yee, Roger (2005). "Public transportation: on the move...". Visual Reference Publications. p. 102. 
  7. ^ a b "Caltrain Electrification Project" (PDF), sonic.net, August 2000, Section 4: ELECTRIC ROLLING STOCK EQUIPMENT POWER, High Horsepower Amtrak/MARC Locomotive 
  8. ^ 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 
  9. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (August 16, 2002). "Amtrak sideline more locomotives because of defect". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. 
  10. ^ Don Phillips (16 August 2002). "High-Speed Trains Shut Down Again". Washington Post. 
  11. ^ Leo King (19 August 2002). "Acela woes recede". Destination:Freedom 3 (34). National Corridors Initiative, Inc. HHP-8 engines also shopped; borrowed power runs trains. 
  12. ^ "Amtrak awards $466 million contract for 70 new electric locomotives" (PDF). www.Amtrak.com. Amtrak Press Release (Ref:ATK-10-141a). October 29, 2010. 

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