Siemens Charger

The Siemens Charger is a family of diesel-electric passenger locomotive designed and manufactured by Siemens Mobility for the North American market. Currently, there are two models: the SCB-40, which was designed for Virgin Trains USA (at the time Brightline), and the SC-44, originally for Amtrak. The first production SC-44 unit was unveiled on March 26, 2016. The first SC-44 unit went into Amtrak revenue service on August 24, 2017, followed by the SCB-40, which inaugurated Brightline service on January 13, 2018.

Siemens Charger
WSDOT SC-44 No. 1401 at King Street Station in Seattle
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderSiemens Mobility
Order numberACE: 4
Amtrak: 75
Amtrak (state corridors): 63
Virgin Trains USA: 10
VIA Rail Canada: 32
  • SCB-40
  • SC-44
Build date2016–
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
TrucksSiemens model SF4
Wheel diameter44 in (1,118 mm)
Minimum curve250 ft 0 in (76.20 m)
Wheelbase32 ft 6 in (9.91 m) (between truck centers)
Length71 ft 6 in (21.79 m)
Width10 ft 0 in (3.05 m)
Height12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) (roof)
14 ft 4 in (4.37 m) (roof shroud)
Axle load67,500 lb (30,617 kg)
Adhesive weight100%
Loco weight264,556 lb (120,001 kg)
Fuel typeDiesel
Fuel capacity1,800 US gal (6,800 l; 1,500 imp gal) (Standard)
Larger tanks available up to
2,200 US gal (8,300 l; 1,800 imp gal)
Prime moverCummins QSK95
RPM range600-1800
Engine type45° V16, four stroke cycle
Displacement95 liters (5,800 cu in)[1]
Traction motorsSiemens AC Traction Motors
978 hp (729 kW) each
Cylinder size5.9375 liters (362.33 cu in)
MU workingYes
Train heatingLocomotive-supplied head-end power; 660 kW (890 hp) 3-phase, 60 Hz, 480 VAC
Ratings up to 1,000 kW (1,300 hp) available
Loco brakeDynamic / Regenerative / Electropneumatic
Train brakesElectropneumatic
Safety systemsFRA standards
WABTEC I-ETMS Positive Train Control
Performance figures
Maximum speed125 mph (201 km/h)
Power outputSCB-40: 4,000 hp (3,000 kW)
SC-44: 4,400 hp (3,300 kW)
Maximum @ rail: 3,900 hp (2,900 kW)
Tractive effortStarting:
290 kN (65,000 lbf)
275 kN (62,000 lbf)
Factor of adh.4.07 (24.57%)
OperatorsAmtrak, MARC, Virgin Trains USA
Official nameCharger
Data refers to the following except where noted:[2][3]


The Charger is powered by a Cummins 16-cylinder QSK95 4-stroke high speed diesel engine, which is designed to meet EPA Tier IV emissions standards that took effect in 2015.[4] Power output varies by model; the SCB-40 produces 4,000 hp (3,000 kW),[5][6] while the SC-44 produces 4,400 hp (3,300 kW).[7]

The top speed in service as per PRIIA specifications is 125 mph (201 km/h).[8] The locomotive shares much of its overall design with Siemens' all-electric locomotives Vectron used in Europe and the ACS-64 used by Amtrak and SEPTA. Four Insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) power inverters carry electric current to each of the four AC traction motors. A static inverter off of the main prime mover supplies head-end power (HEP). The locomotive also features dynamic braking with regenerative capability, allowing the locomotive to divert power generated by dynamic braking away from the resistor grids to HEP and on-board locomotive auxiliary power demands.[2]

In response to a 2013 Request for Information from Metro-North Railroad, Siemens said they might produce a dual-mode variant of the Charger with onboard energy storage for use by Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road, as well as intercity service on Amtrak's Empire Corridor.[9]

Service history

The first production SC-44 unit was unveiled on March 26, 2016.[10] The first two Charger locomotives to leave Siemens' factory in Florin, California were transported to the Transportation Technology Center (TTCI) in Pueblo, Colorado in June 2016 and underwent testing of performance metrics such as acceleration and braking.[11][12] The first Brightline SCB-40 locomotives were delivered in December 2016 to undergo testing in Florida.[13]

In February 2017, Amtrak and WSDOT began testing one of the Midwest-bound locomotives for federal certification along the Cascades corridor in the Pacific Northwest.[14][15] Test runs were conducted on the Midwest and Northern California routes in April and May.[16] Testing at up to 135 miles per hour (217 km/h) at TTCI, on the corridors, and on the Northeast Corridor in September 2016 resulted in a federal certification for 125-mile-per-hour (201 km/h) operations.[17]

Revenue testing on the Capitol Corridor began on May 25, 2017.[18] During these tests - which also included the San Joaquins route - the trains operated with a second locomotive in case of failure.[19] The SC-44 entered revenue testing on the Midwest routes in July, with solo revenue service beginning on a Hiawatha Service train on August 24, 2017.[17][20] The Northern California units were formally accepted and approved for solo service on October 23, 2017.[21] Revenue service on the Cascades route began in November 2017.[22] On December 18, 2017, Washington state SC-44 #1402 was wrecked in a derailment of a Cascades train on the Point Defiance Bypass.[23]

Brightline began revenue operations with its SCB-40 locomotives on January 13, 2018.[24] The first Chargers for MARC began testing that month, and revenue service began on April 5, 2018.[25][26] Pre-revenue testing began on the Pacific Surfliner in October 2018; revenue service began later that year.[27][28]



The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in conjunction with its counterparts in California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington, purchased 32 SC-44 locomotives for corridor service operated by Amtrak in March 2014. Included in this $225 million order were options for an additional 75 corridor-configured locomotives and 150 locomotives configured for long distance service, with the long distance locomotive being fitted with a larger 2,200 US gallons (8,300 l; 1,800 imp gal) fuel tank as opposed to the 1,800 US gallons (6,800 l; 1,500 imp gal) tank on the corridor locomotive.[29][8] California units have an aerodynamic spoiler on the rear roof that matches the height of bi-level California and Surfliner cars.[30]

In 2015, IDOT ordered 12 additional units for use on the upgraded Lincoln Service corridor.[31] California ordered 14 additional units in November 2015 for use on the Pacific Surfliner beginning in 2018, plus an additional 2 units in 2016 for the Northern California services.[30][27] Several additional units were later added, for a total of 63 locomotives (32 base order and 39 option order): 22 for California, 8 for Washington state, and 33 for the Midwest states.[32][33]

On December 21, 2018, Amtrak ordered an additional 75 Chargers with options for up to 100 more to replace the aging GE Genesis on long-distance services. The first of these locomotives will enter service in 2021, with the order completed in 2024.[34]


MARC announced in August 2015 that it was seeking $58 million to purchase eight locomotives to replace their aging electric powered AEM-7 units, with deliveries planned for late 2017.[35] The purchase was approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works on September 16, 2015.[36] The MARC order uses part of the Amtrak state-corridor options.[37] The first MARC Charger was shipped from the Siemens factory in early December 2017, and began testing in mid-January 2018.[38]

Virgin Trains USA

In September 2014, Virgin Trains USA, then named Brightline, purchased ten SCB-40 locomotives with options for an additional eleven.[39][40] The locomotives are used in pairs, bookending four passenger cars (expandable to seven) between MiamiCentral and Brightline West Palm Beach station, with a future expansion planned to Orlando International Airport Intermodal Terminal. The Brightline locomotives are built with a streamlined front end, concealing the front coupler behind doors, and produce a maximum of 4,000 hp (3,000 kW) instead of the 4,400 hp (3,300 kW) on the SC-44.[41][6]

Altamont Corridor Express

California regional commuter line Altamont Corridor Express ordered four SC-44 locomotives in April 2018, with deliveries expected to begin in December 2019.[42]


In June 2018, the North County Transit District Board of Directors approved the purchase of five SC-44s for its San Diego-area COASTER commuter rail service.[43] Deliveries are expected to begin in August 2020 and conclude in the spring of 2021.[44] In 2019, the Board approved the purchase of two additional units (pending funding) to allow increased service levels.[44]

VIA Rail Canada

In December 2018, VIA Rail Canada ordered 32 bi-directional trainsets powered by SCB-40 locomotives from Siemens for use on the Québec City–Windsor Corridor.[45]

Possible future orders

In July 2018, Metro-North Rail Commuter Council’s vice chairman announced that the agency is considering purchasing 15 SC-44 locomotives to replace the current fleet of locomotives for the Port Jervis Line.[46] Chargers are planned (but have not been purchased) for the Northern Lights Express, a proposed higher-speed passenger service in Minnesota.[47]


  1. "QSK95 For U.S. EPA Tier 4/EU Stage IIIB And EPA Tier 3/EU Stage IIIA". Cummins. 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  2. "Charger Diesel-Electric Locomotive: All Aboard Florida" (PDF). Siemens Mobility. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 23, 2016. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  3. "Charger Diesel-Electric Locomotive: IDOT, Caltrans, WSDOT" (PDF). Siemens Mobility. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2016. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  4. TRAINS Magazine (19 February 2016). "Siemens Charger locomotive receives a Cummins engine" via YouTube.
  5. Glucksman, Marc (2018). "The Siemens Diesel-Electric Series". Passenger Train Journal. 42 (1): 18–21.
  6. C. Vantuono, William (July 5, 2017). "Brightline going biodiesel". Railway Age. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  7. Guss, Chris (July 2016). "SC-44s on the horizon". Trains. 76 (7): 17.
  8. "Specification for Diesel-Electric Passenger Locomotives" (PDF). Amtrak. July 10, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  9. "A.4 Technical Explanation for 110 MPH Sustained Speed". A.4 Technical Explanation for 110 MPH Sustained Speed. Federal Railroad Administration. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  10. "Siemens unveils first complete Charger locomotive". Railway Gazette. March 30, 2016.
  11. "First Siemens Charger locomotives head to TTCI". Railway Age. June 22, 2016.
  12. "Charger diesel on test at Pueblo". Railway Gazette. August 11, 2016.
  13. "First Brightline trainset delivered". Railway Gazette. December 14, 2016.
  14. Chirls, Stuart (February 15, 2017). "New Amtrak Charger locomotives testing on Cascades route". Railway Age.
  15. Gunnoe, Chase (February 20, 2017). "Amtrak Cascades route begins testing Siemens 'Charger' locomotive". Trains.
  16. "New Siemens Charger Locomotives Begin Testing" (Press release). Illinois Department of Transportation. April 19, 2017.
  17. Next Generation Equipment Committee (February 23, 2018). "Multi State Diesel Electric Locomotive Procurement: The Siemens Charger". NGEC Annual Meeting, February 23rd, 2018. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  18. "Meeting of the Board of Directors" (PDF). Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. June 21, 2017.
  19. "San Joaquins Operations Update" (PDF). San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. July 28, 2017. p. 12.
  20. "Siemens Charger solos for first time out of Chicago". Trains. August 24, 2017. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  21. "Meeting of the Board of Directors" (PDF). Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. November 15, 2017. p. 27.
  22. "Rail - Amtrak Cascades New Locomotives - Completed June 2017". Washington State Department of Transportation.
  23. "'UPDATE: Amtrak in fatal derailment south of Tacoma'". Railway Age. December 18, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  24. Chirls, Stuart (January 11, 2018). "Brightline slates fares and service date". Railway Age.
  25. Edmonson, R G (January 15, 2018). "Maryland's MARC testing Chargers on passenger routes". Trains.
  26. "MARC Riders Advisory Council Meeting minutes" (PDF). MARC Riders Advisory Council. April 19, 2018. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  27. "New, Cleaner Locomotives Coming Soon to the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Service" (Press release). Amtrak. October 5, 2018.
  28. "Charger Locomotive Deployment: 'The California Experience'" (PDF). Next Generation Equipment Committee - 2019 Annual Meeting. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. February 22, 2019.
  29. "Siemens wins an additional locomotive contract in the USA" (PDF) (Press release). Berlin, Germany: Siemens Mobility. March 18, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  30. "Cleaner Locomotive Fleet Powers Up: 22 New Units Ordered for State-Supported Amtrak Corridors" (PDF). The Mile Marker. Caltrans. December 2016. pp. 31–32.
  31. "Siemens to deliver 34 locomotives to three states in the U.S." (PDF) (Press release). Siemens Mobility. November 6, 2015.
  32. Next Generation Equipment Committee (February 2017). "Multi State Diesel Electric Locomotive Procurement: The Siemens Charger" (PDF). American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. p. 2.
  33. "Siemens rolls out first Cascades Charger locomotive". Railway Gazette. March 8, 2017.
  34. "Amtrak to Improve National Network with New Locomotives" (Press release). Amtrak. December 21, 2018.
  35. Dresser, Michael (August 8, 2015). "MTA seeks $58 million for new MARC engines". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  36. "Board Of Public Works Approves $58 Million Contract For Eight MARC Locomotives" (Press release). Baltimore, Maryland: Maryland Transit Administration. September 17, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  37. "Marc to replace electric locomotives with diesels". International Rail Journal. August 13, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  38. "Siemens ships new locomotives for Septa and Marc". International Rail Journal. December 7, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  39. "More Siemens Charger diesel locomotives ordered". Railway Gazette. November 9, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  40. "All Aboard Florida Selects Siemens as Train Manufacturer" (Press release). Sacramento, California: Siemens Mobility. September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  41. "First look: Rail cars for new Florida passenger train". USA Today. June 10, 2016.
  42. "Altamont Corridor Express orders Charger locomotives". Trains Magazine. April 26, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  43. "NCTD Board Approves Purchase of New Locomotives to Serve San Diego County". North County Transit District. July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  44. "NCTD board approves Siemens locomotive order". Progressive Railroading. June 18, 2019.
  45. "Siemens Canada secures major order with VIA Rail Canada for new fleet of passenger trains" (Press release). Siemens Mobility. December 12, 2018.
  46. MTA Board - MNR Committee Meeting - 07/23/2018, July 23, 2018, retrieved August 23, 2018
  47. "Northern Lights Express Spring 2018 Newsletter" (PDF). March 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2018.

Further reading

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