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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @06:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the quite-the-charge(r) dept.

Siemens SC-44 Charger seen rolled out across country to replace some older locomotives for corridor work.

The new Siemens Charger locomotives, with 16-cylinder, 4,400-horsepower engines, are both lighter and quieter, and meet EPA emission standards. The trains will travel the same speed as before—79 miles per hour—but they'll reach the top speed faster.

The new locomotives can also take you to from Chicago to Detroit, or Chicago to St. Louis, for example, and they can do it using one-third the fuel, emitting one-tenth the pollution, and at speeds up to 125 miles per hour. (The Chicago-St. Louis route has been cut from 5-1/2 hours to 4-1/2 hours thanks to the new engines and track improvements.

"A lot of our customers care about the earth and about pollution, and these are so much cleaner to operate, and they're better for our partners at IDOT and the customers because they're going to cost less to operate in that they get better mileage," said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman.

Just saw one while I was out for a cigar and thought it was pretty cool, I figure others might find it interesting as well. I have been taking my kids to go watch them do trackwork on the north-south line in Oregon and was wondering why they were so extensive in replacing all of the old ties. Although the speed limit is 79 I wonder if this will be increased with updated track and new locomotives. Here is hoping someone models it soon so I can waste money.
4400 horsepower, top speed of 125, and meets EPA Tier VI emission standards.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday December 06 2017, @12:50PM (9 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @12:50PM (#606112) Journal

    The new engines are nice. Does this mean Amtrak can improve its routing? That's important too. The world's most efficient diesel electric engines are wasted if their routing and scheduling has customers going on wildly roundabout routes. Every time I've checked on taking a passenger train from Texas to California, Amtrak comes up with this completely insane route through Chicago that is at least 1000 miles and several days longer than a direct route, and which costs more than flying! Even for their core route between Washington D.C. and Boston, last time I checked (admittedly over a decade ago) Amtrak asks so much money you may as well fly or rent a car and drive.

    For most endpoints, buses are better than the train. The train only beats the bus for endpoints that happen to lie along its route. However, for long distances buses still can't match flying. The US has basically 2 good, practical ways of traveling: car or plane. The longer the trip, the more attractive the plane becomes. Buses and trains are really useful only for people who can't (or won't) drive, perhaps have some disability that makes them unable to drive a car safely, and maybe also can't or won't fly. Self-driving cars could disrupt all this. Should be fun.

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  • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Wednesday December 06 2017, @03:34PM (1 child)

    by Sulla (5173) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @03:34PM (#606160) Journal

    Last year I took an Amtrak bus from Vegas to LA to catch the northbound Stargazer. One of the worst experiences I have had in my entire life.

    What you want is the Sunset Limited that goes from New Orleans to LA but only operates three days a week. Personally I don't mind the extra time it takes because I love trains and hate TSA, but to each his own.

    "I'd rather take a political risk for peace rather than risk peace in pursuit of politics" - President Donald J. Trump
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:40PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:40PM (#606327) Journal

      Yup, one does not go cross country by train in the US if time spent doing so is any concern.
      This is not Germany or the UK where you get there in one day. The trip is a multi-day affair.

      I found it quite enjoyable (went west to east coast and back again) in 2015. Free wine tasting every night (bottles handed out in the trivia contest). You'll want a room for a trip of that duration, but meals come with that room).

      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:41PM (6 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @04:41PM (#606196)

    Trains would be better in many places if they had better tracks (and better track access, instead of yielding right-of-way to cargo trains on the same tracks), and faster speeds, and of course much lower prices. It's ridiculous that it's cheaper to fly.

    One big problem is speed and density: out west there just isn't any way trains are going to compete well with planes on travel time because the distances are huge. Hyperloop would fix this, but for regular trains, you really need high-speed rail for it to make much sense, unless you can get the ticket price way, way down so it's a cheaper but slower alternative to flying. As it is, Amtrak takes days to cross the country and costs a fortune to do so.

    But in the northeast, this just isn't the case, and they don't have a really good excuse here (except shitty politics). If the trains were running 125 the whole way (instead of one little section just north of Philly), taking a train from DC to NYC wouldn't be much slower than flying, especially after factoring in all the time you waste getting molested by TSA, and traveling from the far-away airports (at least in NYC, in DC you can use Reagan which is convenient) using the shitty JFK AirTrain or a cab or Lyft because stupid NYC won't build the subway to the airports.

    Also, the trains have *better* endpoints than just about everything else in the northeast, because the trains actually go where you want to go. In DC, Amtrak stops at Union Square, which is walking distance to the Capitol and the Mall. In NYC, Amtrak stops in Penn Station, which is right in the heart of Manhattan, and is walking distance to Times Square, Central Park, etc. (That one's a bit of a walk, you might want to hop on the subway, but the subway station is right there at the station.) The airports in NYC as I said are a disaster as far as location, and buses have to contend with traffic, backups in the Lincoln Tunnel, etc.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:52PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:52PM (#606341) Journal

      I currently live in Providence, RI and grew up about an hour outside of Pittsburgh, PA, which is where my parents still live.

      We use the train all the time. It's 8-10 hours, but honestly that's as good as flying when you factor in all the additional delays -- an hour or two to get to the airport vs 20 minutes to get to the train station; have to get to the airport two hours in advance and deal with security vs arrive and walk right on with the train; then when you get there you're still an hour drive away from the airport vs a short bus ride or long walk from the train station. So yeah, the flight may only be an hour or two, but when it takes five hours longer just dealing with airport delays and additional transit, it's pretty much the same total time. Plus the train almost never stops -- if you book a train trip in December, you can be very confident that you're going to make it. If you book a flight, there's a good chance it's going to get delayed or cancelled due to weather, and you might end up having to drive home and try again another day -- or just get stuck in the airport. Plus the train is usually significantly cheaper (even moreso once you factor in additional transit that air travel usually requires). And the train is actually comfortable -- a coach class train seat is as nice as most first class airline seats, and business class on the train (which you can often get for just a few dollars extra) is like a goddamn living room couch! Even in coach got tons of leg room, multiple electrical outlets, wifi, a dining car, and you can move around pretty freely. The cheapest Amtrak seat is downright luxurious compared to any kind of airline travel. And it costs less, and it usually gets you closer to you ultimate destination.

      I'm not sure I'd want to take a train across the country, but for anything less than 12 hours it's an obviously better choice. And I don't really want to fly long distances either -- I've turned down free trips to Hawaii just because I've done it once and that flight was absolutely not worth it. Maybe if you're gonna stay for a month or two, but for a one week trip you spend the whole damn week recovering from the fucking flight, and by the time your joints stop aching it's time to get back in the plane and do it again!

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:53PM (4 children)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:53PM (#606343) Journal

      It's ridiculous that it's cheaper to fly.

      No its not ridiculous. Its simple cost.

      Compare apples to oranges:

      Going by air (546 – 575 mph) means 3 to 5 hours in the air, treated like sardines, fed very little, but the punishment only lasts a few hours.

      Going by train (60 - 90 mph) means 4 to 5 days (depending on route), you will want a bed, restaurant meals, showers, and a bar.

      Explain how any of that should cost out the same?

      Compare like to like:
      Seattle to Portland: $129 by Air
      Seattle - Portland: 27 bucks by Amtrak

      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Dr Spin on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:24PM (3 children)

        by Dr Spin (5239) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:24PM (#606363)

        Or, going by train should be 250MPH, like the rest of the world, so that the journey would be same day, and, not having the security theatre, about the same over all time as a plane.

        Putting your data in the cloud is like sending your teenage daughter backpacking in a 3rd world country with a pimp
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:17PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:17PM (#606412)

          Nowhere in the world are they going even within a factor of 2 of 250 MPH.

          • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:05PM

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:05PM (#606435)

            The 250mph thing is a bit of a stretch, but the Shinkansen [] regularly goes 150-200mph, has been tested up to 275, and hit a world record of 375mph with a maglev train.

            Even in the US, the regular Amtrak hits a peak speed of 125mph, and 150mph on the Acela Express, so your claim is outright wrong.

          • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:55PM

            by Aiwendil (531) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:55PM (#606462) Journal

            In the french TGV-network 300kph (186mph) is the common max speed (has been at least 260kph/161mph since the early 80s) and TGV often hits is max speed while in service.

            The Amsterdam-Brussels is a 300kph(186mph) stretch, and so is the Paris-Brussels (this once since the 90s it seems).

            Those are electrical trains of the highspeed variety that is most common in western europe - so I'd say they manage within a factor of 1.5.