Cummins Helps Passenger Rail Pick Up Speed in North America

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Cummins Helps Passenger Rail Pick Up Speed in North America_1
The Union-Pearson Express in Toronto, Canada, is using Cummins’ QSK19-R engine for a new service between the city’s airport and Toronto’s Union Station downtown (photo courtesy of Metrolinx.)


From its distinctive shades of green to its custom seats, handy power outlets and Wi-Fi, the UP Express will have plenty to keep passengers talking about as it whisks visitors from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Union Station downtown for the Pan American Games in 2015.

Few people, however, will likely notice what’s beneath Nippon Sharyo’s state-of-the art railcars. Cummins’ underfloor QSK19-R diesel engines will power the new service, but Company leaders say they’ll understand if people focus on the new railcars’ passenger amenities.

“At Cummins, we are all about partnering in our customers’ success,” said Melina Kennedy, the Company’s General Manager – Global Rail and Defense Business. “We’re very pleased that our ultra-clean diesel technology is seen as a way to help move people more efficiently while significantly reducing emissions.”

Powering the 18 railcars included in Toronto’s UP Express is merely one example of how Cummins is playing an increasingly important role today in passenger rail in North America. Other projects include:

  • Cummins’ QSK19-R will also power 14 Nippon Sharyo railcars headed to the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) system north of San Francisco, California (U.S.A.), as part of a more than $200 million expansion.
  • Cummins’ QSK95 engine, the largest high speed diesel engine the Company has ever built, is the preferred engine for Siemens’ new Charger locomotive. Siemens won a multi-state, $225 million contract in 2014 to build 35 diesel-electric locomotives in the U.S.
  • That same locomotive will also power All Aboard Florida, the first privately-owned, operated and maintained passenger-rail system in the United States.

When these projects looked for a fuel efficient engine meeting stringent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations, Cummins had the right product at the right time to deliver the power and torque they needed to succeed.

The QSK19-R powers more than 1,700 railcars currently in use in intercity operations in Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, China and elsewhere. To meet U.S. and European emissions regulations, the engine is fully integrated with Cummins’ Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) aftertreatment that reduces exhaust emissions to extremely low levels.

SCR converts oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which can cause smog, into nitrogen and water that can be safely emitted into the atmosphere. With the use of SCR, engine combustion can be optimized to improve fuel efficiency. Engines with Cummins’ SCR package have delivered up to six percent better fuel economy.

When the service is fully implemented in Toronto, the UP Express is expected to remove the equivalent of more than a million vehicles annually in and around Canada’s largest city.

A similar configuration will power the railcars for the Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit system.  SMART wants to build a line serving Sonoma and Marin counties, north of San Francisco. The initial operating segment between Santa Rosa and San Rafael is slated to open in late 2016.

The QSK95, meanwhile, has been quickly making a name for itself since its introduction in November of 2011. The engine is eight feet tall, 14 feet long and capable of producing up to 4,400 horsepower (2,983 kW).

It is ideal for passenger rail, providing clean power in a relatively small footprint compared to heavy, medium-speed diesels traditionally used in locomotives. It was the perfect fit for Siemens, which was looking for an American-made engine for a new locomotive it planned to build for U.S. markets.

When officials from Illinois, California and Washington (state) jointly bid a contract for 35 diesel-electric locomotives, with an option for another 222 locomotives, for regional and mainline trains, Siemens won (the trains will also serve parts of Missouri and Michigan). The 35 locomotives are scheduled to be delivered starting in 2016.

That contract isn’t the only big development in Siemens’ U.S. rail efforts. The company’s Charger locomotive with the QSK95 will also power a ground breaking initiative called All Aboard Florida.

The privately owned, operated and maintained passenger rail service will eventually connect Miami and Orlando, making intermediate stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Service from Miami to West Palm Beach is scheduled to begin in late 2016. When fully implemented, All Aboard Florida is expected to remove about 3 million cars from the road annually.

Skeptics question whether North Americans will ever be willing to give up their cars for train travel. But advocates say as highway traffic congestion grows, the climate improves for passenger rail.

“This is a very exciting and important time for passenger rail,” Cummins’ Kennedy said. “Our hope is the high technology we’re developing coupled with our deep knowledge of engines will help Cummins customers develop successful solutions to moving people quickly and efficiently.”


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