Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation said new locomotives will be put into use on a number of routes, including the Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg service between Quincy and Chicago.
“These locomotives will gain speed faster. They should operate a little more smoothly than the current locomotives,” said Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari.
He said the new fleet should be running on the in-state lines in Illinois by the end of the month. He said the new locomotives will run on diesel – the same as the current ones – but will be a bit smaller, a different shade of blue, and will be branded as “Amtrak Midwest.”
New locomotives are also being added in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Michigan. IDoT said a total of 33 will be delivered by January, with California and Washington receiving additional units as well.
Magliari said Illinois was the lead state for the project, which will cost $216.5 million and be paid for with federal funds. The new locomotives will be owned by the states and leased to Amtrak.
“It really is a national project that was run by the Illinois DoT using federal grant funds back from the stimulus,” said Magliari.
Most of the locomotives being replaced are around 20 years old.
The benefits of the new locomotives, according to Amtrak and IDoT, are:
- A 90% reduction in emissions compared to the current locomotives
- Three times less fuel consumption
- Lower maintenance costs
- Lower fuel costs
- They meet the latest federal rail safety regulations
- Quieter operations
- Faster with operating speeds of up to 125 mph
- Faster acceleration and braking
“These new locomotives are simply going to meet the needs of the traveling public a lot more efficiently,” said IDoT spokesperson Kelsea Gurski.
Amtrak said the Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg line runs 28 trains per week and carried 202,407 passengers during Fiscal Year 2016.