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Amtrak # 915 electric locomotive (AEM-7) 1 | by James St. John
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Amtrak # 915 electric locomotive (AEM-7) 1

This is a General Motors Electro-Motive Division AEM-7 electric locomotive that was built in January 1981. It was used for several decades by Amtrak to pull passenger trains. It was donated to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in the town of Strasburg.


Electric locomotives do not burn wood or coal or diesel fuel. Instead, they use electricity to operate the motors in the engine. Electric power is delivered via a pantograph atop the engine that connects with wires running above the railroad tracks. In the above photo, the pantographs are folded down.


Info. from

"Amtrak inherited high-speed operations on the Northeast Corridor from bankrupt Penn Central in 1971. Electrified passenger services between New York, New York and Washington D.C. were handled by new Budd Metroliner electric multiple units and aging Pennsylvania Railroad GG1s. Amtrak's first replacement for the GG1 was the General Electric E60, delivered in 1974.


However, these proved unable to safely exceed 100 miles per hour and they were consequently relegated to hauling slower, long-distance services.


Amtrak then turned to Europe, and brought two units for trials in 1976-1977: the Swedish Rc4 (numbered X995) and the French CC 21000 (X996). Amtrak favored the Swedish design, which formed the basis for the 7,000 horsepower AEM7, sixty-five of which were built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division from 1978 to 1988 under license from Swedish manufacturer General Swedish Electric Company.


The bodies were built by the Budd Company, with trucks, electrical, and mechanical parts from Sweden. The Swedish influence led to the nickname "Meatball", after Swedish meatballs, but railfans nicknamed the boxy units "toasters".


The first AEM7 (# 900) went into service for Amtrak in 1979 and, between 1980 and 1982, forty-six more went into service (# 901-# 946). The final seven were delivered in 1988. Two other commuter operators in the northeast ordered AEM7s: Maryland Area Regional Commuter ordered four in 1986 for its Penn Line service between Washington D.C and Perryville, Maryland, and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority ordered seven in 1987.


# 915 arrived at the museum in June 2015. It is one of the original direct current (DC) propulsion units, rather than the later modified alternating current (AC) propulsion units."


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Taken on May 11, 2016