February 26, 2018

Chicago’s Metra to acquire Amtrak locomotives

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Chicago’s Metra to acquire Amtrak locomotives Keith Barrow

THE board of Chicago commuter rail operator Metra voted on February 21 to authorise negotiations to purchase up to 21 locomotives from Amtrak at a price of $US 1.3m each.

The 177km/h four-axle F59PHI locomotives were built by EMD in 1998 and have undergone refurbishment within the last five years. The locomotives are currently used on Amtrak services in California, where new Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives are currently being delivered.
Metra says the F59PHIs will be 10-25% more fuel efficient than its older motive power. The agency says the Amtrak locomotives will not replace its current units but will increase fleet capacity to improve the reliability of its services.

Currently up to 12 Metra locomotives can be out of service for overhaul at any given time, with a further five units stopped for Positive Train Control installation.

In addition to the Amtrak locomotives, Metra is also seeking proposals from manufacturers for new locomotives for delivery in late 2020.

While the board will decide on financing later this year, Metra has set aside about $US 15m from cumulative fare increases that could be applied to the purchases, which would total about $US 27m. Options also include borrowing money or using federal grants.

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