In one of the few instances in recent memory in which an EMD product was
constructed far superior to a GE design (it should be noted that EMD
did not really design the model itself although the builder collaborated with other manufacturers), the AEM-7 was simply a much better design and more efficient
locomotive than the E60 and its variants. Where the E60 featured a C-C
truck setup (three axles per truck) the AEM-7 used a smaller B-B design
(two axles per truck). This not only allowed the EMD model to be much
smaller at just 51 feet in length (as opposed to the E60's 70 feet) but
also much lighter at just 101 tons. In contrast, the GE's model weighed
nearly twice that amount, 193.5 tons. The lighter weight allowed the
AEM-7 to be much more stable on the rails and operate at higher speeds
of 125 mph.
Amtrak began placing orders for the AEM-7 in 1978, before it
had even completed its order of E60CPs and E60PHs. All of the model's
internal components were designed and built by Allmänna Svenska
Elektriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA) of Sweden. However, the locomotive's
stainless-steel, ribbed carbody may look familiar to some as it was
designed by the legendary Budd Company, which by the late 1970s was
still serving a limited market for passenger equipment.
Amtrak's first batch of AEM-7s, 46 units, began service between
1980 and 1982 after it had received its first a year earlier in 1979.
By 1988 the carrier's order for the model was complete, at 54 units,
more than double the total number it had purchased of GE's E60 design.
Altogether, EMD would construct 65 AEM-7s as both the Southeastern
Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Maryland's MARC
commuter service purchased a few examples of the model. Today, Amtrak's
entire fleet of AEM-7s remain in regular service along the Northeast
Corridor, save for those few destroyed in wrecks. In 1999 the units
were rebuilt in conjunction with Alstom which upgraded a number of them
for AC power. As such they have been reclassified as AEM-7DCs and
|AEM-7 #946 speeds over the massive Susquehanna River Bridge near Havre de Grace, Maryland with regional train #126 on May 12, 2006.|
For more reading about Amtrak’s AEM-7 electrics and other electrics consider Electric Locomotives
from Brian Solomon. Not only does the book give a nice overview about
the Amtrak's electrified operations it also covers American electric
locomotive technology in general that includes nearly 100 pages of
excellent photography. Another book that covers modern electric locomotives like the AEM-7 is Locomotives: The Modern Diesel and Electric Reference by author Greg McDonnell. Mr. McDonnell's book is much larger in scope than Solomon's Electric Locomotives, covering newer electrics (and diesels) on nearly 250 pages which are packed full with excellent photography, illustrations,
and diagrams. The book has received superb reviews by readers and is
perhaps the best current work out there covering the topic.