NS Continuing DC to AC Conversions

Norfolk Southern plans to convert about 100 locomotives a year from DC to AC traction.

Speaking to an investor’s conference this week, Chief Financial Officer Mark George said 54 percent of the railroad’s motive power fleet is now AC traction.

NS is seeking to bring that up to 65 percent. Management has said converting older DC traction models to AC traction enables the railroad to have a like-new unit for half the cost of a new locomotive.

They also say AC traction units are more reliable, cost less to maintain, are more efficient, and have provide better tractive effort.

Other steps NS has taken to improve the efficiency of its fleet include adding energy management systems, which now cover about 80 percent of its locomotives with a goal of expanding that to 90 percent.

George said nearly half of NS trains now operate with distributed motive power. That percentage is expected to grow as train lengths increase.

He said the average NS train is more than 7,000 feet long with 10 percent of trains exceeding 10,000 feet.

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