From Lhasa to Arlanda…

I have quite a few friends who seem to travel a lot. Often they do it by train, and knowing my fondness for railroads, they tend to snap a photo or two, and then forward those pictures to me.

Patrick and Yao took the train from Beijing to Lhasa not that long ago and sent me these photographs:Lhasa Train5.jpg

Lhasa Train3.jpg

Lhasa Train1.jpgMy knowledge of the Chinese railway system is rather limited, so there isn’t much technical information forthcoming. I do know that the diesel locomotives at the front of the train in the top photographs were built by GE Transportation in the USA. They were purpose built for the extreme temperatures and high altitude they operate in. China Railways has them classified as NJ2. These diesel-electric locomotives are based on the GE Transportation C44-9W series. I am sure that more information can be had on Wikipedia.

qinghai-tibet_railway.jpgTwo Class NJ2 on the Qinghai to Lhasa rail line. (Photo by Henry Chen)

BNSF_Dash_9-44CW_5518.jpgA Burlington Northern Santa Fe GE C44-9W diesel-electric locomotive. (Photo by the author)

From Lhasa to Stockholm. Patrick sent me these two photographs taken at Stockholm Central:IMG_20181104_172829.jpeg

IMG_20181104_173027.jpegThe yellow, Darth Vader-y looking thing, is the Arlanda Express, connecting Stockholm Central Station with Stockholm Arlanda Airport. Those are Class X3 electric multiple units capable of around 125 mph top speed. They were built by Alstom in Birmingham, UK around twenty years ago and renovated in 2006. Seating capacity is about 190. The service does not stop between Stockholm central and the two airport stations. The train has not been a resounding success. Ticket prices are high: about US$32 for a one-way ticket. When Brad and I were in Stockholm we found that a taxi from the hotel to the airport terminal was considerably cheaper for two passengers than taking the Arlanda Express.

The second photograph shows a Swedish Railways (SJ – Statens Järnvägar) Rc6 electric locomotive. The Rc series were and are still the main stay of the Swedish electrified network. These ASEA built locomotives proved to be incredibly reliable and were exported to quite a few countries. In 1977 Amtrak, the US passenger railroad, was in need of new motive power on their electrified northeast corridor, so they tested one of these locomotives. Amtrak was so impressed that eventually 54 units were ordered, to be built by ASEA and EMD. Amtrak_X995_at_Wilmington_Shops,_August_1976.jpgA Swedish Rc4 locomotive in Amtrak livery on the northeast corridor for testing in 1977. (Photo by Wes).

These locomotives, now classified as AEM-7 by Amtrak, soldiered on until being replaced after close to 40 years of service by the Siemens built ACS-64 electrics.

Top speed of the AEM-7 was 125 mph, power output was around 7000 horse power. They were a Bo’Bo’ configuration, weighing in at 92 tons at 51 feet long. They could operate under catenary with 11 kv at 25 Hz AC, 12.5 kv at 60 Hz AC and under 25 kv at 60 Hz AC.

e2f4371369e2464770464ee83d80b48f.jpgThree generations of Amtrak electric power: An AEM-7 (900) on the right, an example of the ill fated and totally unreliable HHP-8 (651) in the middle and the new ACS-64 (623) on the left. (Photo by Matt Donnelly)

Photos by Patrick Grother and Yao Zhao, unless otherwise noted.

©Ralf Meier


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