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    Dec. 18, 2006 file photo of the Siemens headquarters in Munich, southern Germany.

Siemens facility in Sacramento to build locomotives for U.S. rail projects

Published: Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014 - 8:27 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2014 - 8:18 am

Siemens on Tuesday announced that it has been awarded a $225 million contract to build 32 diesel-electric locomotives – all of which will be assembled at the Siemens rail manufacturing facility in Sacramento – for rail projects in California and four other states.

The multistate procurement of state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly “Charger” passenger rail locomotives was led by the Illinois Department of Transportation, done on behalf of the transportation departments of five states: California, Washington, Michigan, Missouri and Illinois. The first locomotives are set to be delivered in 2016, according to Siemens.

Officials said the project includes options for 225 additional locomotives.

The contract is the latest in a series of projects that have kept Siemens Rail Systems’ south Sacramento manufacturing plant busy. The local facility employs more than 800 and has been in operation for almost 30 years. Up to 80 percent of its power is derived from two megawatts of solar energy.

Asked about the possibility of more hires to handle the workload outlined in the new contract, Siemens spokeswoman Elizabeth Cho said, “We’re not committing to any number at this time.”

In an emailed statement, she added: “As the production schedule for the 32 locomotives ramps up, Siemens anticipates filling positions through existing employees transitioning to support the multistate locomotive order, and through new hires.”

Siemens noted that all main components of the new locomotives will be produced at Siemens plants in the United States – including traction motors and gearboxes in Norwood, Ohio, and propulsion containers in Alpharetta, Ga. The diesel engines will be manufactured by Cummins at its plant in Seymour, Ind.

“As a global leader in rail innovation, we are thrilled to be able to showcase our new passenger rail, diesel-electric locomotive technology in this country,” said Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rail Systems in the United States. “These state-of-the-art, energy-efficient locomotives will be built in America using renewable energy and will provide a cleaner, safer and faster means of transportation for rail passengers.”

California Department of Transportation Director Malcolm Dougherty issued a statement, saying: “California continues to lead the way in offering robust and sustainable alternative transportation choices, which is especially important given the record-setting ridership that we’ve experienced over the last several years. This agreement will help boost our transportation infrastructure, strengthen the local economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Charger diesel-electric locomotives are built on Siemens’ Vectron platform, currently pulling some 1,600 passenger and freight cars throughout Europe. The electric version of this locomotive was rolled out last year in the U.S. by Amtrak and is currently in use along the nation’s Northeast corridor. The Charger locomotives to be assembled in Sacramento will be powered by a Cummins diesel engine rated at 4,400 horsepower and designed to meet environmental regulations. A microprocessor control system manages the performance of the locomotive and performs self-diagnosis of technical issues.

Officials said the Chargers can operate efficiently at speeds up to 125 mph.

The “green” line of new-generation locomotives has been a bonanza for the local Siemens facility. In May last year, Siemens unveiled a major new product line, rolling out the first of 70 electric locomotives it will produce over two years for Amtrak’s East Coast passenger lines. That $466 million contract ranked as the largest in the history of the French Road facility.

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

Read more articles by Mark Glover

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