WSDOT SC-44 No. 1401 at King Street Station in Seattle
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The Siemens Charger is a family of diesel-electric passenger locomotive designed and manufactured by Siemens Mobility for the North American market. There are two models: the SCB-40, which is designed for Brightline, and the SC-44. The first production SC-44 unit was unveiled on March 26, 2016. The first SC-44 unit went into Amtrak revenue service on August 24, 2017, followed by the SCB-40 which inaugurated Brightline service on January 13, 2018.
The Charger is powered by a Cummins 16-cylinder QSK95 4-stroke high speed diesel engine, which is designed to meet EPA Tier IV emissions standards that took effect in 2015. Power output varies by model; the SCB-40, designed for Brightline, produces 4,000 hp (3,000 kW), while the SC-44 produces 4,400 hp (3,300 kW).
The top speed in service as per PRIIA specifications is 125 mph (201 km/h). The locomotive shares much of its overall design with Siemens' all-electric locomotives Vectron used in Europe and the ACS-64 used by Amtrak and SEPTA. 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 on-board locomotive auxiliary power demands.
In response to a 2013 Request for Information from Metro-North Railroad, Siemens said they might produce 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.
Production began with the SC-44. The first production 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 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 to undergo testing in Florida ahead of the service's planned launch in mid 2017, while additional locomotives destined for Amtrak service underwent testing for federal certification requirements beginning in February 2017 along the Cascades corridor in the Pacific Northwest. On April 19, the locomotives began testing in Illinois. The locomotive made its first test run across Missouri from St. Louis to Kansas City on April 25, 2017, with the California units beginning the month-long pre-revenue testing on the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin routes in May.
The first SC-44 entered revenue service on a Hiawatha Service train on August 24, 2017. Chargers entered revenue service in California on the Capitol Corridor in November 2017, and in Cascades service the following month. The first SCB-40 entered service on January 13, 2018, along with the opening of Brightline.
On December 18, 2017, Washington state SC-44 1402 was wrecked while pulling an Amtrak Cascades train on the first day of revenue service using Point Defiance Bypass, when the train derailed on a tight curve while approaching the Interstate 5 overpass.
Amtrak (state corridors)
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in conjunction with its counterparts in California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington, purchased 32 locomotives for corridor service operated by Amtrak in March 2014. Included in this $225 million order were options for an additional 75 corridor-configured locomotives and 150 locomotives configured for long distance service, with the long distance locomotive being fitted with a larger 2,200 US gallons (8,300 l; 1,800 imp gal) fuel tank as opposed to the 1,800 US gallons (6,800 l; 1,500 imp gal) tank on the corridor locomotive. California units have an aerodynamic spoiler on the rear roof that matches the height of bi-level California and Surfliner cars.
In 2015, IDOT ordered 12 additional units for use on the upgraded Lincoln Service corridor. California ordered 14 additional units in November 2015, and two more in 2016, for use on the Pacific Surfliner beginning in 2018. Several additional units were later added, for a total of 63 locomotives (32 base order and 39 option order): 22 for California, 8 for Washington state, and 33 for the Midwest states.
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.
Brightline purchased ten SCB-40 locomotives with options for an additional eleven. The locomotives will be used in pairs, bookending four passenger cars (expandable to seven) on a new rail system between MiamiCentral and Orlando International Airport Intermodal Terminal. The Brightline locomotives are built with a streamlined front end, concealing the front coupler behind doors, and produce a maximum of 4,000 hp (3,000 kW) instead of the 4,400 hp (3,300 kW) on the SC-44.
Altamont Corridor Express
In June 2018, the North County Transit District Board of Directors approved the purchase of five Chargers for its San Diego-area COASTER commuter rail service. Deliveries are expected to begin in the first half of 2021.
In July 2018, Metro-North Rail Commuter Council’s vice chairman announced that the agency is considering purchasing 15 SC-44 locomotives to replace the current fleet of locomotives for the Port Jervis Line.
Northern Lights Express (proposed)
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- "Northern Lights Express Spring 2018 Newsletter" (PDF). March 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
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