I know many younger and modern fans will disagree, retiring the AEM7's is something of sadness; what we celebrate is the arrival of the ACS-64.
For a good deal of their lives, they were great machines, and still are, they are malfunctioning because of their age, hard wear and tear, and no money to fix what's broken anymore. They handled 125mph operations for over three decades, powerful and reliable. Many were doubtful after their debut, of whether they would be good enough to replace the GG1's and keep the NE Corridor fluid. Well, they did that and much more. Along with their diesel brothers, the F40's, they were the railroad's molecule of life, along with the Amfleets and Superliners. Like I said, many detractors write on here and other sites of how much they are breaking down, and it's true -- they are, but it's because they have arrived at the end, and there's really no more to be expected of them. It is time for these engines to pass on to locomotive paradise, which hopefully is the same Paradise we can get to, if we're 'good'.
Mark my words: the Corridor, it will look awfully strange after the last few units are gone, for as a person in my upper 40's, AEM7's made the route tick. And forget, of course, today's bland horror that is their Phase 5 paint scheme, in the beginning, their stripes SHINED. I mean, they rocked, and they wore the face of hope of American passenger railroading. AEM7's bridged the chasm from the ruins of post automobile rail, to the future of what was to come and what can be. These 7,000 horsepower locomotives embarassed arogant air shuttles by enabling trains to compete with them, and it gave train travelers a trump card in which to argue. And while their domain was in the Northeast only, it gave bulk to the visions of people like W. Graham Jr., whose infant designs of electrified routes in California and the mid-West, had they actually been given money, would have had trains powered by either an AEM7 or derivative successor.
The engines were moving, even while not in motion. To see a double headed 13 car Amfleet consist waiting for take off was like waiting in the Roman Coluseum for the lion to pounce on its doomed target, I mean, the way they sounded -- that hum and whine during acceleration, the air hiss while stopped, was a life chapter of awe. If possible, try to overlook what they've become, and see -- remember -- the dream of what they were not long ago even.
ACS64 has big shoes to fill, as do we. We can gripe about various things about Amtrak, but that requires the bold question: what do we want, and what can we expect, of the American passenger train? And what kind of work are we willing to expend to get it?
- Robert (NE933)
Edited by NE933, 06 February 2014 - 10:19 PM.