Trains Need Greening Too: Amtrak to Add New Efficient Locomotives

Amtrak has agreed to buy 70 electric locomotives from Siemens as part of an ambitious $11 billion, 14-year plan to upgrade its rail service. The trains, called Cities Sprinters, will drastically upgrade the energy efficiency of their predecessors.

Among the energy-saving features on the Siemens design - which will be based on the Euro Sprinter design (pictured) - is regenerative braking.

“This isn’t your grandfather’s locomotive,” said Oliver Hauck, president of  Siemens Industry’s Mobility Division, in a press release. “Not only will we use renewable energy to build them, the locomotives will also include energy efficient features, such as regenerative braking that can feed up to 100 percent of the energy generated during braking back to the power grid."

Moreover, the $466 million contract with Siemens will be filled largely by manufacturing at a Sacramento plant powered (mostly) by solar energy. So if anyone starts doing lifecycle emissions calculations for these trains, that will help as well. (The project will also create more than 200 jobs, mostly in California).

I'm an unabashed trains lover, but I'm the first to admit they're far from perfect when it comes to energy use and efficiency. So it's nice to see Amtrak, in spite of seemingly constant financial problems, following through on promises to upgrade its fleet.

(Image via Siemens)

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