By Keith Laing - 02/06/14 03:09 PM EST
Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony FoxxUS-Mexico air transport deal cleared for takeoff DC Metro lags on federal safety actions Republican lawmakers sound the alarm over Cuba flights MORE took a tour of a new Amtrak electric locomotive on Wednesday.
Biden, a noted Amtrak enthusiast, got into the cab and sat beside Amtrak train engineer Rick Stolnius to get a feel for the controls of the locomotive model Amtrak was unveiling.
The first of the new locomotives is scheduled to be used for passenger service on Friday, on a train that will travel from Boston to Washington, D.C.
Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said the electric locomotives would represent a drastic improvement in rail service in the densely populated Northeast.
"Amtrak is integral to the daily life of the Northeast and the new locomotives will keep the people and businesses of the region connected and on the move," Boardman said in a statement. "New equipment ensures Amtrak can deliver the reliable service the region depends on and supports the growth of the region as America's economic powerhouse."
Amtrak said the new electric locomotives were built by Siemens Rail Systems at solar-powered plant in Sacramento, Calif.
The 70 locomotives that were ordered by Amtrak cost $592.9 million, which was paid for with a loan for "railroad rehabilitation and improvement" from the Federal Railroad Administration.