To get to the unveiling of the new Charger locomotive at Union Station, it seemed fitting to take the train. Either that or sit in traffic for 90 minutes. Hard pass. Metrolink, Southern California's commuter rail, runs a varied fleet of trains, including this Hyundai Rotem cab car.
There is something gorgeously grand about old train stations. Los Angeles Metro, which owns the station, describes it as a combination of "Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne styles."
The Charger has a reinforced monocoque carbody structure that, according to Siemens, gives it additional strength with less overall weight compared to other designs. It's stronger than its European siblings, which don't have to meet the American 800,000-pound buff strength requirements.
The massive Cummins 95-liter V-16 diesel prime mover. In most Chargers, this engine produces 4,400 horsepower. Florida's Brightline version produces 4,000. Each cylinder has more volume than an entire Lamborghini Huracán engine.
Access to the other side of the V-16, but no through walkway back to the cab. Despite it's size, this engine has 90 percent better emissions compared to the current Pacific Surfliner locomotives, and gets 16 percent better fuel economy, according to Siemens.
At the bottom of the "Y" of access passages letting you move around the locomotive guts is the machine room, or "Electrical Equipment Compartment 2." Here the power produced by the engine and generator gets converted to the power used by the traction motors and for the head-end power (HEP) required by the rest of the train.
I was getting disappointed there weren't more dials and levers. I mean, this is a train, after all. Under braking, energy can be recovered from the traction motors to power the auxiliary and HEP. So really, it's like a big Toyota Prius. A Toyota Prius with a 4,400hp V-16. Which is exactly the kind of Prius I'd like to own.
If you notice on the far right, at the rear of the locomotive's roof, there's a bit of a lip. This is only found on the California Chargers for better aerodynamic performance with the bi-level coaches.
I've never seen an actual ribbon cutting in person before. Comically large scissors and all! From left to right: Shirley Choate, interim district director Caltrans District 7; Jennifer Bergener, managing director LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency; Tony Kranz, board member LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency; Brian C. Annis, secretary of California State Transportation Agency; and Armin Kick, vice president, Locomotives and High-Speed Trainsets, Siemens.
Event over, I took the train home. Well, "a" train, not the new Charger. Here are two more trains currently used by Metrolink. On the left is one of the new EMD F125s, which took me home. These are replacing the much older EMD F59PH, seen here adjacent and on the far right.