NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - When Amtrak unveils the first of 70 new locomotives today at a plant in California, it will mark what the national passenger railroad service hopes will be a new era of better reliability, streamlined maintenance and better energy efficiency.
On a broader scale, the new engines could well be viewed as emblematic of the improving financial health of Amtrak, which has long been dependent on subsidies from an often reluctant Congress.
More than 31 million passengers rode Amtrak in the 2012 fiscal year, generating a record $2.02 billion in ticket revenue.
The new engines will be used on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston and on Keystone Corridor trains that run between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. Three will be unveiled Monday before being sent out for testing. The first is due to go into service by this fall, and all 70 are expected to be in service by 2016.
Amtrak awarded the contract in 2010 to Munich-based Siemens AG, which has made a big investment in the American rail industry over the last decade.
About 750 people are employed at Siemens' Sacramento plant. The locomotive project also involves Siemens plants in Columbus, Ohio, Richland, Miss., and Alpharetta, Ga. The majority of the products and materials used to build the locomotives are made in the U.S.