When train locomotives made the switch from diesel to electric, especially commuter lines, Amtrak was able to provide cleaner transportation.
Of course, the almighty dollar has a lot to do with it, as electricity is much cheaper than diesel fuel. As a side benefit, electric locomotives could reduce emissions depending on where they get their energy from. Come of the electric locomotives that Amtrak is using these days are up to thirty years old, so it’s safe to say that they probably aren’t as efficient as today’s versions. Upgrading can be expensive though, as this week’s big investment goes to show.
The first of Amtrak’s seventy new electric locomotives, at a total cost of $466 million dollars, about $6.7 million each, are rolling off Siemens’ production lines in California. These new high-tech locomotives are more efficient and feature a regenerative braking system that recovers nearly 100% of the energy used to drive them. There are minimal losses due to inefficiencies and lighting and electronics in the trains themselves.
The new electric locomotives will go into service running the NorthEast Corridor on the route between Washington, DC, New York, NY, and Boston MA, as well as the Keystone Corridor from Philadelphia, PA to Harrisburg, PA. Over their twenty-year lifespan, the new locomotives are projected to save about three terawatt-hours [3TWh or 3,000,000,000kWh] of electricity and $300 million.