SEPTA debuts new electric Regional Rail cars

Mike DeNardo
July 11, 2018 - 4:17 pm
FILE -- The first of SEPTA's new Regional Rail locomotives are going into service

Mike DeNardo / KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The first of SEPTA's new Regional Rail locomotives are going into service, in a move the transit agency hopes will improve reliability. 

As cameras captured the moment, train No. 901 pulled into the Chestnut Hill East station. It's the first of 15 new Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotives SEPTA is buying. They'll replace eight aging locomotives and add seven more to the fleet.

"We've had service incidents — a number of times I've had to personally write apologies and things to our riders about them. We're just so excited to be able to get the new locomotives," said SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel.

Knueppel said the Regional Rail cars being used are old and tired.

"The AEM-7s are the last ones running in the country," he added.

The new locomotives will first go into service on the Paoli/Thorndale Line — the route with the heaviest ridership — then the Wilmington/Newark, West Trenton and Media/Elwyn lines.  

Eventually, the new locomotives will be used to pull new double-decker rail cars, which are expected to be added to the fleet beginning in 2020.

SEPTA has eight of the new locomotives now — four more are currently being shipped from Sacramento, and three more arrive in August.

All told, it was a $133 million purchase, made possible with dedicated state transportation funding from Act 88.

Knueppel said all 15 cars should be in service by the fall.

"Between now and October, we're looking to get rid of all of our old electric locomotives from running and have the new locomotives out there," he said.