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The Siemens Charger is a family of diesel-electric passenger locomotives designed and manufactured by Siemens Mobility for the North American market. There are three models of Chargers: the SC-44 for state-supported and VIA inter-city services, the SCB-40 for Brightline inter-city service, and the ALC-42 for Amtrak long distance service.
The first production SC-44 was unveiled on March 26, 2016, and entered revenue service on August 24, 2017, followed by the SCB-40, which inaugurated Brightline service on January 13, 2018. The first ALC-42 was delivered to Amtrak on June 17, 2021.
The Charger is powered by a Cummins 16-cylinder QSK95 4-stroke high speed diesel engine, which meets EPA Tier IV emissions standards that took effect in 2015. Power output varies by model: the SCB-40 produces 4,000 hp (3,000 kW), the SC-44 produces 4,400 hp (3,300 kW), and the ALC-42 produces 4,200 hp (3,100 kW). The top speed in service is 125 mph (201 km/h), but MARC is the only operator currently operating the Charger at that speed.
Four Insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) power inverters carry electric current to each of the four AC traction motors. A static inverter off of the main prime mover supplies head-end power (HEP). The locomotive also features dynamic braking with regenerative capability, allowing the locomotive to divert power generated by dynamic braking away from the resistor grids to HEP and onboard locomotive auxiliary power demands.
In response to a 2013 Request for Information from Metro-North Railroad, Siemens said they would be capable of producing a dual-mode variant of the Charger with onboard energy storage for use by Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road, as well as intercity service on Amtrak's Empire Corridor.
The first production SC-44 unit was unveiled on March 26, 2016. The first two Charger locomotives to leave Siemens' factory in Florin, California were transported to the Transportation Technology Center (TTCI) in Pueblo, Colorado in June 2016 and underwent testing of performance metrics such as acceleration and braking. The first Brightline SCB-40 locomotives were delivered in December 2016 to undergo testing in Florida.
In February 2017, Amtrak and WSDOT began testing one of the Midwest-bound locomotives for federal certification along the Cascades corridor in the Pacific Northwest. Test runs were conducted on the Midwest and Northern California routes in April and May. Testing at up to 135 miles per hour (217 km/h) at TTCI, on the corridors, and on the Northeast Corridor in September 2016 resulted in a federal certification for 125-mile-per-hour (201 km/h) operations.
Revenue testing on the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins routes in Northern California began on May 25, 2017. During these tests, the trains operated with a second locomotive in case of failure. The Northern California units were formally accepted and approved for solo service on October 23, 2017. The SC-44 entered revenue testing on the Midwest routes in July 2017, with solo revenue service beginning on a Hiawatha Service train on August 24, 2017. Revenue service on the Cascades route began in November 2017.
Brightline began revenue operations with its SCB-40 locomotives on January 13, 2018. The first Chargers for MARC began testing that month, and revenue service began on April 5, 2018. Pre-revenue testing began on the Pacific Surfliner in October 2018; revenue service began later that year.
Altamont Corridor Express
On December 21, 2018, Amtrak ordered 75 ALC-42 locomotives with options for additional 100. The first locomotive is expected to enter service in 2021 with the last by 2024.
Compared with the SC-44, changes were made to ALC-42 to make it more suitable for long-distance service: additional positive train control systems for nationwide service, larger diesel fuel tank (2,200 U.S. gallons or 1,800 imperial gallons or 8,300 liters instead of 1,800 U.S. gallons or 1,500 imperial gallons or 6,800 liters), larger diesel exhaust fluid tank, larger sand tank, extended nose section with remodeled headlights for ease of repair in the event of minor front-end collision, and prime-mover de-rated to 4,200 horsepower (3,100 kW) to lengthen maintenance intervals. On August 5, 2020, Amtrak announced that one of the first six locomotives will be painted to commemorate 50 years of Amtrak service, while the other five will feature a preliminary "Phase VI" paint scheme.
Amtrak state-supported corridors
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in conjunction with its counterparts in California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington, purchased 32 SC-44 locomotives for state-supported corridor services, operated by Amtrak under contract.
The $225 million order placed in March 2014 included options for an additional 75 corridor-configured locomotives In 2015, IDOT ordered 12 additional units for use on the upgraded Lincoln Service corridor. California ordered 14 additional units in November 2015 for use on the Pacific Surfliner beginning in 2018, plus two more units in 2016 for the Northern California services. Washington state ordered an additional unit to replaced the one lost in the 2017 Point Defiant Bypass derailment.
A total of 64 locomotives (32 base and 32 options) were ordered for Amtrak state corridors in this contract: 22 for California, 9 for Washington state, and 33 for the Midwest states. Another 8 options were exercised by MARC, bringing total contract orders to 72.
In September 2014, Brightline purchased ten SCB-40 locomotives with options for an additional eleven. The locomotives are used in pairs, bookending four passenger cars (expandable to seven) on Brightline's Miami–West Palm Beach service. The SCB-40s have a streamlined front end that conceals the front coupler behind a removable nose cone and produce a maximum of 4,000 hp (3,000 kW) instead of the 4,400 hp (3,300 kW) on the SC-44. Brightline later ordered five additional trainsets and one extra locomotive (eleven locomotives total) for use on the extension to Orlando, with delivery between September 2021 and 2023.
In June 2018, the North County Transit District Board of Directors approved the purchase of five SC-44s for its San Diego-area Coaster commuter rail service, replacing five older F40PH locomotives. Deliveries began in August 2020 and are expected to conclude in the spring of 2021. Two additional units were approved in June 2019, and another two in September. These additional locomotives will replace two existing F59PHI locomotives and allow increased service levels. The first five locomotives entered revenue service on February 8, 2021.
MARC announced in August 2015 that it was seeking $58 million to purchase eight locomotives to replace their aging electric powered AEM-7 units, with deliveries planned for late 2017. The purchase was approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works on September 16, 2015. The MARC order uses part of the Amtrak state-corridor options. The first MARC Charger was shipped from the Siemens factory in early December 2017, and began testing in mid-January 2018.
VIA Rail Canada
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
In December 2020, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved a Federal Transit Administration-funded $335 million contract for 27 dual-mode locomotives based on the Charger design. The new locomotives will replace the 27 existing GE Genesis locomotives used on the Metro-North Railroad's Hudson Line, Harlem Line, and Danbury Branch; they will use third rail electric power to enter Grand Central Terminal. The first 19 locomotives are scheduled to be completed in mid-2026. The contract has options for 144 additional locomotives: 32 for Metro-North, 66 for the Long Island Rail Road, 20 for the New York State Department of Transportation (for Amtrak Empire Service trains), and 20 for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Possible future orders
- EMD F125 – competing Tier 4 passenger locomotive
- MPI MPXpress MP54AC – competing Tier 4 passenger locomotive
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