Posts Tagged ‘Siemens SC-44’

Amtrak Displays New ACL-42 Locomotive

June 16, 2021

Amtrak displayed its first ALC-42 locomotives on Tuesday, saying it is expected it to go into service in two to three months.

The unit on display in Chicago on Tuesday will be sent to Wilmington, Delaware, for testing before entering revenue service on eastern long distance trains serving Washington, most likely the Crescent, Capitol Limited, and Cardinal.

The initial eight ALC-42 engines will have what Amtrak has termed a “transitional” livery of blue on the carbody ending at a red chevron.

The design is meant to be reminiscent of the Phase I livery that has been reapplied to P42DC No. 161, which was also on display Tuesday at Union Station.

Amtrak’s Devon Parsons, senior manager of equipment engineering, said the ALC-42 units are similar to the Siemens SC-44 chargers that pull corridor service trains in the Midwest and the West.

But the ALC-42 locomotives feature a few feature changes including newer technology for a number of systems.

Other changes include redesigned front end framed windows and a removable nose “to reduce our shop out-of-service from strike damage.”

Whereas the SC-44 units have a 1,800 gallon fuel tank, the ALC-42s come with a 2,200-gallon fuel tank.

Parsons said the ALC-42’s computer program was revised to address wheel slip issues reported on the SC-44 locomotives.

Amtrak has ordered 75 ALC-42 locomotives that will be delivered through 2024 at a rate of about two per month.

The next ALC-42 to be delivered wlll be No. 301, which will have the predominantly black, one-off “Day One” livery that adorned a single E8A unit to mark the inauguration of Amtrak in 1971.

The ALC-42 fleet will replace P42DC locomotives that are now standard on national network trains.

Charging Past Some Lingering Fall Color

November 15, 2020

I didn’t expect to find any fall foliage still in its glory during a mid November excursion to east central Illinois.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find some trees in Pesotum, Illinois, on the Champaign Subdivision of Canadian National still boasted peak seasonal color.

Show is Amtrak’s northbound Saluki headed to Chicago from Carbondale, Illinois.

On the point is a SC-44 Charger locomotive owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which also funds the operation of No. 390.

The Siemens-built Chargers are standard motive power on Amtrak’s Midwest corridor trains.

Within a couple years Chargers will replace the GE-Built Genesis units that pull Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

The Saluki these days is operating with Superliner equipment made “surplus” by Amtrak’s reducing the frequency of operation of its long-distance trains to tri-weekly.

This Time I Got it Right. Or Did I?

July 29, 2020

Back in mid June I stopped in Arcola, Illinois, to photograph Amtrak’s northbound Saluki passing a massive grain elevator complex.

My objective was to recreate an image I had made here of that train in August 2012.

Since then the P42DC locomotives used to pull the Saluki have been replaced with Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives.

My June photograph was not bad but not quite what I had wanted.

I had not spent enough time checking out the photo angles and the arrival of the train caught me by surprise and out of position.

I had to scramble to get across the street and into position and ended up photographing the train a little too soon. It was more grab shot than planned image.

Last Sunday I was again in Illinois hunting trains to photograph. I timed my trip so I could get Amtrak’s northbound City of New Orleans shortly after sunrise in Rantoul and then catch the northbound Saluki three hours later.

This time, I did it right. I checked out various photo angles well before the train arrived.

As is typical, Train No. 390 was running a few minutes late when it left Mattoon, its previous station stop.

Having ridden this train numerous times when I used to take Amtrak from Cleveland to Mattoon to visit my Dad, I knew about how long it took the train to reach Arcola.

Soon there was an LED headlight in the distance and I got into the position I wanted to be in. No. 390 was not going to catch me off guard this time.

The grain complex in Arcola that I wanted to feature is laid out in three rows.

There is a row of silos, some of then concrete, next to the former Illinois Central tracks. There is another row of metal silos to the west of those and a third row on the other side of U.S. Route 45.

Without having a drone you can’t get all three rows of the complex in a photograph with an Amtrak or Canadian National freight train.

The top photograph above is the best of the images I made as the northbound Saluki rushed past last Sunday.

Pleased with what I’d captured, I declared it “mission accomplished” and moved on to find something else.

But a funny thing happened as I was writing this post and started comparing the 2012 image with the photographs I made this year.

That June image is far more similar to the 2012 photograph than is the July image.

You can see for yourself. The middle image above was made in June and the bottom image is the August 2012 photograph I was trying to duplicate.

My opinion of an image can change as I work with it. What looked good on the screen on the back of the camera doesn’t look so good when the image is downloaded onto my computer and projected onto the large screen that I use.

Of course I’ve seen it happen the other way, too. I’ve also begun to warm to a photograph as I processed it in Photoshop and eliminated some of its “imperfections” through cropping and adjusting such things as color, tone and shadows.

In a direct comparison of the August 2012 and June 2020 images, I still give a decided edge to the 2012 photograph in terms of quality.

The 2012 rendition does better at encompassing the enormity of the grain elevator complex and the light is a little less harsh. The latter is probably the difference between photographing in June versus photographing in August at approximately the same time of day.

You may notice that in 2012 the service building to the right had white siding whereas six years later it is tan.

There is another footnote to the comparison of the June and July photographs. In June, No. 390 was carrying a Heritage baggage car in order to meet a host railroad imposed minimum axle count for Amtrak trains using single-level equipment.

But by late July the Heritage baggage car had been replaced by a Viewliner baggage car. In neither case was checked luggage being carried in that car.

All three of the images create a sense of place and do a nice job of contrasting the size of the grain complex with that of the train.

We tend to think of trains as large objects, which they are, but it is all relative to what you compare their size with.

The way that grain complexes loom over trains adds to the drama of the photograph by creating contrast.

My original theme for this post was that last Sunday I got the photo right in a way I had not done it in June.

But once I started comparing the June and July images I began seeing that really wasn’t true. That June photo was more like the August 2012 image than I had remembered.

Ultimately, it wasn’t so much about getting it right versus getting it wrong, but how I felt about what I had just created when walking away from the scene.

Upon further review, there are reasons to feel good about all three images. Although they may be similar all three have their own character that I found pleasing. Each comes with its own set of memories of the trip on which it was created.

Coming to a Long Distance Train Near You

November 18, 2019

Northeast Ohio has two Amtrak’s long-distance routes but no corridor operation so you’re probably tired of seeing a steady drumbeat of Amtrak’s P40 and P42DC locomotives on the point of the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

They’ve been the mainstay of the long-distance trains since the 1990s with the current blue and silver livery dominant since the early 2000s.

In fact some P40 locomotives have been in service for more than 25 years. Yeah, the Genesis series locomotives built by GE have been around for a long time.

Late last year Amtrak announced it had ordered 75 Chargers from Siemens that will be assigned to long-distance trains starting in summer 2021.

The SC-44 is already the motive power of choice for Amtrak’s Midwest corridor trains.

So if you haven’t seen a Charger in the flesh, here is a preview of what you might be seeing in a couple years on the point of the Lake Shore or Capitol.

Shown is the southbound Saluki passing the former Illinois Central depot in Pesotum, Illinois, as it makes its way from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois.

In the meantime, the Chargers are now being used on Michigan corridor trains so if you want to see or photograph a Charger in action you’ll need to go to that state up north.

Charging Through Michigan

July 26, 2019

A recent visit to Durand, Michigan, netted the information that SC-44 Chargers are now operating on the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water.

The Chargers, which the Michigan Department of Transportation helped to buy for Amtrak Midwest corridor services, were slow to be assigned to Michigan trains that use Amtrak-owned track west of Kalamazoo, due to the need to upgrade the software on the locomotives to be compatible with the line’s positive train control system.

Apparently those upgrades have been made.

Nos. 364 and 365 operate with locomotives in each end to avoid having to turn the train in Port Huron during its nightly layover.

No. 365 is shown leaving Durand for its next stop of East Lansing before continuing on to Chicago.