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Discussion Starter #1
I model in O Scale from the start of Diesel to semi-modern. I am also a Railfan that stops and takes photos of Diesels and rolling stock.

I once saw an Amtrak train come into Lacrosse Wisconsin station/depot for passengers, I see Amtrak diesels occasionally in my O Scale catalogs, but pay little attention.

My question is what is the Diesel(s) that Amtrak uses and why do they look different than freight Diesels?

I understand they are intended to go at higher speeds. They could just gear a normal Diesel for higher speeds and call it good. But they physically look different than modern freight locomotives.

Who manufactures them? There are only 2 American players now as I understand it - EMD and GE - so it would be a shame if Amtraks motive power was sourced outside the US.

I am sure I could get a synopsis by going to Wikipedia but I know most of the intelligentsia on the forum can fill me in better.
 

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Wikipedia is a good place to start. You’ll find other manufacturers besides EMD and GE.
Yes, most of those locos are specially designed for passenger operation.
Amtrak also uses electric locos, since the Northeast Corridor is electrified, as well as the line west to Harrisburg, PA.
If you have questions specific to O scale models they are probably best asked in the O Scale section to be sure all those members can see it.
 

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Let's see, one of the differences would be HEP capability for the passenger cars, freight locomotives don't need that capability. Another would be their top speed, most passenger diesels have no problem reaching 100 mph, even if they don't do it often enough. Freight locomotives don't need to do more than 60-70 max as they rarely run at those speeds, so they're geared lower.

I suppose another more minor point would be streamlining. Although it probably doesn't amount to a great deal, I'm sure the Genesis slips through the air cleaner than most freight locomotives.
 

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Who manufactures them? There are only 2 American players now as I understand it - EMD and GE - so it would be a shame if Amtraks motive power was sourced outside the US.
Amtrak's newest motive power for its trains have indeed been "sourced outside the US." We've been used to American manufacturers providing Amtrak's motive power for some time.

IMG_2890.jpg

IMG_3434.jpg

But the latest replacement for GE's Genesis series locos are Siemens Chargers, manufactured in Germany, which are modern 4400 hp diesels that can top out at 125 mph. These are already in use on Amtrak's Cascades in the Pacific Northwest and on Southern California's Surfliners.

21583_TN_US-CALIFORNIA-PACIFICSURFLINER-SIEMENS-CHARGERL-LUSTIG1.jpeg

I think she's a beauty and well suited for both of the above mentioned Amtrak regional passenger trains.

Problem is, at least in O scale, Lionel has always been slow to respond in keeping up with Amtrak's latest motive power. MTH not quite as much. But it would be nice to see the Charger made available in O scale along with a newer set of Surfliner and or Cascade passenger cars. But don't hold your breath. :(
 

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If you mean the older, "boxy-er" Amtrak long-haul diesels, those are EMD F40PH's -essentially a GP40 with an HEP generator in what EMD called a "cowl unit". The first cowl units were ATSF FP45's because Santa Fe didn't like the looks of a road switcher like the SDP45 pulling the Super Chief (although GN used them for the Empire Builder). The pic is an F40PH. :)
 

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One of my favorite Amtrak diesels, the Cascade. The 3 colors represent, brown = mountain, white = snow, green = evergreen forests.

Bill

P5110016.JPG
 

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siemens has a california plant, and at least some or perhaps all the siemens items for amtrak are made there. i don't know the details.
 

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siemens has a california plant, and at least some or perhaps all the siemens items for amtrak are made there. i don't know the details.
Thanks Severn. I stand corrected and after a little more research, learned that Siemens indeed has a plant in Sacramento, California, where these locomotives are supposedly made. Evidently, the engine for them or prime mover, is manufactured by Cummins in Indiana.

So it looks like these new Siemens Chargers are made in America after all. :) Sure would like to see Lionel or MTH make these.
 

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well, you've a fair point. Design elsewhere, put together here, etc... Still it apparently fits in the guidelines, however wiggly they may be.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone, especially for adding the photos. I don't care for the looks of the Amtrak locomotives but I guess they are modern looking. I understand the old streamliners were not going to last into the modern era.

I did not put this out there because I plan to model in O Scale, I put it here because it was more of a Rail Fan curiosity, which all of your input has informed me more than placement in O Scale.

Thanks!
 

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There possibly is something to the fact that buyers perhaps want to see something that "looks" the part. But I believe amtrak has certain guidelines for it's passenger engines, and it may well be passenger engine manufacturers just happen to fit the bill -- and these have a look that perhaps has some function as well. And so I would guess it costs money to make swoopy things. For passenger trains which tend to be faster, it may be worth it to make the engines look and be more aerodynamic -- lower operational costs. Further blocky engines for freight trains in the US may be easier to build and that money saved there can be spent elsewhere -- because that's more important than little money perhaps saved for slower speed work that could be aerodynamic. .... But I'm hardly an expert, all speculation.
 

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Amtrak's passenger locomotives do look more streamlined than their boxy-looking, utilitarian freight locomotive counterparts.

However, the U.S. has always been eons behind other nations in passenger train advancements.

This is a photo I clicked back in August, 1973, of one of Japan's Shinkansen trains just before boarding. Even 46 years ago it reached speeds of 130 mph between Tokyo and Kyoto. Today they're even faster at 200 mph.

R1-07996-0007 (2).jpg

France's current TGVs are even more futuristic looking, with a super aerodynamic design that reduces head-end drag enabling speeds at 200 mph and up. Testing has put it at 327 mph, in one instance.

TGV_HIGH-SPPED_TRAIN_FRANCE.ADAPTIVE.767.0.jpeg

China and other countries are also either currently using or working on similar train designs.

I guess my point in all this is emphasizing that it's too bad the U.S. is so far behind in passenger train development. Other than the Acela in the Northeast, Amtrak has no dedicated high-speed passenger lines and is at the mercy of the freight railroads, which give their trains priority over Amtrak trains.

Amtrak's regional passenger train service including the Cascades in the Northwest, the Pacific Surfliners in southern California, and of course the Acelas in the Northeast, aren't bad, considering. But overland east-west train travel on Amtrak leaves much to be desired.

Our country is too large to accommodate east-west transcontinental high-speed rail service and Amtrak's current long-distance east west trains have a questionable future. But it would be nice to see more development of dedicated rail lines for high-speed passenger train service in other regions of the country in addition to the Acela in the Northeast.
 

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it's simple. when we allocate transportation money. it largely goes to roads. and why is that?
Because Americans are car-crazy. :D

Sorry Bryan. Didn't mean to hijack/morf your thread about Amtrak diesels into promoting better passenger train service in the U.S. But the two are sorta linked, kind of. :eek:
 
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