The first of 70 new energy-efficient locomotives destined for Amtrak's East Coast service rolled off Monday morning from a Sacramento, Calif., assembly line.
The locomotives, called Amtrak Cities Sprinters and built by Siemens Rail Systems, will replace Amtrak equipment that has been in service for more than two decades and has logged an average of 3.5 million miles. The new engines, costing $466 million, will be used on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston and on the Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg Keystone Corridor.
Capable of operating at speeds of up to 125 mph, the new engines are electric-powered, drawing electricity from overhead catenary wires. The braking systems are designed to recover 100 percent of the energy used and transfer it back to the electric grid.
Crumple zones on the front of each locomotive will absorb impact from a collision and on-board computers will diagnose and correct problems in real time.
The first three locomotives will undergo testing this summer, with the first ready for service by fall. All 70 are expected to be in service by 2016.
More than 31 million passengers rode Amtrak in the 2012 fiscal year, generating a record $2.02 billion in ticket revenue. Amtrak officials said they will repay the federal loan for the locomotives over 25 years using profits from the Northeast Corridor line, which has set ridership records in nine of the past 10 years.