Siemens AG has won a $466-million contract to build 70 electric locomotives for US rail company Amtrak for its busiest northeastern routes, the first big order in the US for the German engineering giant.
The order is part of Amtrak's fleet rejuvenation initiative of replacing old 70 electric locomotives with new ones from Siemens, which will ply in Amtrak's Northeast Regional route between Boston and Washington and Keystone route in Pennsylvania.
Amtrak, which is the largest passenger rail operator in North American and the only operator of a high-speed line, had said in February 2010 that it will replace a most of its aging fleet over the next 14 years at a cost of about $11 billion.
Siemens Mobility Division, which bagged the contract will build the locomotives at its existing light rail manufacturing facility in Sacramento, California and create additional 250 jobs.
All main components of the new locomotive including the motors will be produced in Siemens plants in Alpharetta, Georgia and propulsion containers in Norcross, Georgia.
Siemens said that the Sacramento plant has been in operation for 26 years and is powered up to 80 per cent by two megawatts of solar energy and employs 750 people.
The new locomotives, which are scheduled to be delivered beginning February 2013, are capable of reaching top speeds up to 135 mph, but Amtrak plans to operate them at 125 mph.
''This is a breakthrough for Siemens. The US locomotive market is one of the largest in the world,'' said Oliver Hauck, president of Siemens mobility division, noting that traditionally, Siemens has focused on light rail vehicles for urban settings in the US.
Siemens is already a successful producer of American light rail trains with every third light rail vehicle in the US being a Siemens train. The new Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS64) is based on Siemens latest iteration of the proven EuroSprinter electric locomotive.
Siemens said that over 1,600 units are in operation worldwide, and this latest version will be customised to meet the strenuous environment of the Northeast Corridor.
Washington DC-based Amtrak, which is owned by the US Federal government, operates passenger service on 21,000 miles of track primarily owned by freight railroads connecting 500 destinations in 46 states.
It carried 28.7 million passengers for the 12 months ending 30 September 2010, which is far less than the more than 7 million passengers carried daily by the Mumbai Suburban Railway.
The contract comes after the US government recently announced that it will earmark $8 billion in stimulus funds for developing high-speed rail corridors in the country, of which $2.4 billion would be spent on 54 high-speed rail projects in 23 states-the majority of that money will go to California.
Siemens in the US reported revenue of $21.3 billion and employs approximately 64,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Its Mobility Division posted worldwide revenues of $8.8 billion in fiscal year 2009.