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Amtrak launches first of fleet of new locomotives

Boston, MA 020714 New Amtrak locomotive left South Station, Friday, February 7 2014. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff) section: Metro slug: 08locomotive reporter: In-Cap
The first of a new fleet of locomotivesCredit: Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Amtrak launched the first of a new fleet of locomotives out of Boston’s South Station this morning.

The 70 new locomotives, which were designed by global technology company Siemens, were commissioned as replacements for the current fleet, which is about 25 to 35 years old, said Amtrak chief executive Joe Boardman.

“How many people do you know that have the same car for 30 years?” joked Boardman. “It’s the same kind of thing.”

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The new electric-powered, environmentally friendly “Amtrak Cities Sprinters” were built in a solar-powered manufacturing plant in Sacramento, Calif.

“One of things we are most proud of in this project is that these locomotives were built in America using mostly all American parts,” said Michael Cahill, Siemens Rail Systems chief executive.

The new machines were built with locomotive engineers in mind. Their cars will be more spacious, more technologically advanced, and overall more comfortable.

“We want them to be able to enjoy the ride,” said Cahill.

The Sprinters are built to self-diagnose and self-repair technical problems, said Cahill.

The trains will take over Amtrak Northeast Corridor operations, powering all long-distance trains between Washington, New York, and Boston. Eventually, they will replace Keystone Service between New York, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg, Pa., officials said.

This deal marks the biggest purchase of electrical trains since World War II, said Cahill.

“We’re very proud of what we were able to accomplish,” he said.

Passengers on the train, which departed at 8:15 a.m. today, had nothing but positive feedback, according to Boardman.

The locomotives are able to accelerate faster, and provide a far smoother ride, he said.

“All we want to do is build a rail that will arrive on time,” he said. “And I think we did.”

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