Siemens' Chargers' grand entrance to Chicago

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Siemens-built Charger diesel electric locomotive No. 4611 is owned by a consortium of states for use on routes radiating from Chicago. Siemens, Amtrak, and local officials unveiled a plan to put new Chargers in revenue service as well as a new paint scheme. The locomotive appears at Chicago Union Station on Monday.
Bob Johnston
CHICAGO — Amtrak, Siemens, and state of Illinois officials staged a media open house at Chicago Union Station Monday marking the debut of the first Charger locomotives assigned to Midwest routes.

“Twelve of the 33 ordered Chargers are on the property and I can put ten in service today,” says Mike Yates, Amtrak’s Chicago-based superintendent of locomotives.

Yates tells Trains News Wire that in addition to the units now protecting all Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha departures, he expects the new locomotives will lead Chicago-Quincy, Ill., trains this week, followed by regular round-trips between Chicago and Carbondale, Ill., in the near future The Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette will be next.

Chargers won’t be assigned to Lincoln Service Chicago-St. Louis trains or the Michigan-sponsored Blue Water and Wolverine Service round-trips until testing of Wabtec’s I-ETMS positive train control system and the two versions of Incremental Train Control installed in Illinois or east of Porter, Ind., on the Michigan line is completed in conjunction with the new locomotives.

Tim Hoeffner, director of Michigan’s rail office, says, “These are new installations, it’s a different locomotive, and the systems have to be merged and integrated with the Siemens software, so we will continue to run 110-mph between Porter and Kalamazoo with the existing P42 locomotives until testing is completed.”

Mike Franke, Amtrak’s senior director, state government contracts, confirms that the same situation exists on Union Pacific’s portion of the Chicago-St. Louis route, where the 110-mph segment between Dwight and Pontiac, Ill., is reverting to 79 mph until the new system is in place.

“Lincoln Service train speeds will rise to 90 mph once track and signal work is completed, then 110-mph once the Federal Railroad Administration verifies that the positive train control system is reliable.

Superintendent Yates says the Chargers require a separate diesel emission fluid, or urea, for the locomotives to fulfill the Tier 4 emission-compliant standard.

“The mix is one part fluid to ten parts oil. Each has separate tanks which we fill once per day for the Hiawathas,” he says, pointing out the separate receptacles on the side of locomotive No. 4611.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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