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New Amtrak Locomotive Stops in Carbondale

Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio
One of the new Amtrak locomotives at the Carbondale station on Nov. 15, 2017.

Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation showed off one of its new locomotives at the Carbondale station Wednesday.

Illinois has received 12 of the 44-hundred horsepower diesel-electric locomotives  that are also being put on routes in Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says they are the first step to improve the customer experience  on what is being called Amtrak Midwest .
"We've replaced the locomotives on the Illini and the Saluki. In the next three years, we'll be replacing these rail cars with all new ones because the states have gotten together, attracted federal funds and have gotten that done to improve the quality of service."
Illinois Department of Transportation passenger rail marketing manager Scott Speegle says the new locomotives are faster, operating at speeds of up to 125 miles an hour.
"It will help in terms of getting in and out of stations as quickly as possible as trains have to stop. Hopefully we'll see improvement in on-time performance."

Speegle says the new fleet is safer, cleaner, faster, not to mention quieter.

"Obviously is better for towns as trains are going through. There is less train noise. It's better for passengers as they're on the train."

Magliari says they're also more environmentally friendly.

"They're fully compliant with the current EPA regulations. The old locomotives weren't. So, if you live along the tracks and you might never ride Amtrak, you're going to benefit from us putting these new locomotives in service here."

Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams says  Amtrak is a great asset to the town.

"We're just happy with any upgrades that the state has done; Amtrak has done to make the service more reliable, more efficient.  This is a huge improvement. It's a beautiful locomotive. It's more energy efficient."

The 33 new locomotives cost 216 million dollars. Speegle says the majority of that cost was funded through a federal grant.  He says Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin shared the cost.