Posts Tagged ‘locomotives’

Class 1 Railroads Adding Few New Cars, Locomotives

August 19, 2017

Despite rising traffic, North America’s Class 1 railroads are not expanding their rail car fleets.

In the second quarter of 2017, rail car deliveries were 10,625 units versus 10,042 in the first quarter, the Railway Supply Institute’s American Railway Car Instate Committee reported.

The rail car backlog on July 1 stood at 66,561 units, up from 60,471 on April 1 but down from 66,681 on Dec. 31, 2016. At the end of last year’s comparable quarter, the backlog totaled 89,155 units.

Progressive Railroading reported hat after surveying North American Class 1 railroads it found that the carriers aren’t acquiring many rail cars. Last years railroads purchased only a small quantity of rail cars.

Railroads own 20 percent of all freight cars in North America, with lessors controlling 50 percent. Rail shippers own 20 percent and TTX manages 10 percent.

Norfolk Southern, for example, saw its budget for freight cars fall to $50 million this year after spending $121 million last year on rail car acquisitions.

NS is studying how it can create a smaller, more homogeneous car fleet that would increase cost effectiveness and boost flexibility for operations.

That might mean having fewer types of box cars. NS currently uses 20 different box cars.

The Class 1 railroads plan to continue to modernize their locomotive fleets, but not all of them expected to purchase new engines.

NS spent $290 million last year to acquire 50 new locomotives and modernize some existing units. This included transforms GE Dash 9 locomotives from DC to AC traction.

In 2017, NS is looking to buy 50 new locomotives, most of them GE Evolution™ Series Tier 4 models.

Canadian National expects to receive 22 new locomotives this year after purchasing 90 units in 2016.

CSX hasn’t said if it plans to acquire new motive power in 2017, but it has said it is storing more than 900 units as part of an perational review and the Precision Railroading transition.

The carrier bought 100 new locomotives in 2016 under a long-term purchase agreement after receiving 200 units in 2015 as part of that contract.


Ya Think It Won’t Start Anyway?

August 4, 2017

The remains of a StL&H SD made a stop at work in its journey from LTEX to Pottstown, Pa. I thought the “Do not start” instruction on the non complying locomotive tag was a bit of a hoot.

Photographs by Roger Durfee


Amtrak Tests Charger Locomotive in Midwest

April 20, 2017

One of the new SC-44 Charger locomotives that will be assigned to Midwest Corridor trains was tested between Chicago and Milwaukee on Wednesday.

No. 4611 was on the point for test train 941 from Chicago to Milwaukee, running ahead of regularly scheduled Hiawatha Service No. 329.

It was the first test of a Charger locomotive in the Midwest. Testing has been conducted previously on the east and west coasts.

Two Chargers, Nos. 4611 and 4604 arrived in Chicago late last month.

Siemens built the Chargers at a factory in California as part of an order placed by the departments of transportation of Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri, Washington and Maryland. The order was for 69 locomotives of which Illinois purchased 33.

Most of the Chargers in the Midwest are expected to operate on corridor routes radiating from Chicago.

Further tests of the Chargers are expected to be performed on other Midwest routes.

Progress Testing New Tier 4 Switcher

February 26, 2017


Progress Rail has finished initial testing of a new type of Tier 4 locomotive, the EMD24B.

The EMD24B features a pre-1973 locomotive core that has been rebuilt to meet EPA Tier 4 emission standards.

It comes with a Cat® 3512C HD engine and after-treatment technologies that have been proven to lower emissions, Progress said in a news release.

The prototype is rated at 2,000 horsepower and has rebuilt EMD-style locomotive components, and a remanufactured under frame and cab from an EMD GP40 locomotive.

Progress is currently testing the unit in California on the Pacific Harbor Line to meet that state’s 3,000-hour in-service verification testing.

GE to Layoff 250 at Texas Locomotive Plant

February 4, 2017

The Erie, Pennsylvania, locomotive assembly plant is not alone in seeing worker layoffs.

GE transportationGE Transportation Services plans to furlough 250 workers at it Fort Worth locomotive assembly plant this year, starting in April.

“The North American rail market continues to be challenging. Freight rail volume has dropped year-over-year and the number of parked freight locomotives remains high,” GE spokesman Tim Bader told Trains magazine. “As a result, production volume is down at the facility in Fort Worth, Texas, requiring only 50 percent of the site’s available capacity.”

Bader said furloughed employees will receive company benefits and be eligible for state unemployment insurance.

Those workers not being laid off will be working 32-hour weeks beginning in June.

Since opening in 2012, the Fort Worth plant has built more than 1,000 locomotives for such railroads as Union Pacific, BNSF Railway, Canadian National and Ferromex.

CSX, NS to Increase Inward Facing Cameras, Do More Cell Phone Detection Inside Locomotives

January 18, 2017

CSX and Norfolk Southern expect to increase the number of inward facing cameras in their locomotives this year and to install cell phone detection technology.

train image2Trains magazine reported this week that it obtained a CSX employee bulletin that gave a general outline of the railroad’s plans.

The cell phone detector device will only detect devices that are turned on and available to a cellular network.

Reportedly, the device will not seek to detect phones turned off or placed in “airplane mode,” meaning they cannot connect to a cellular network or the Internet.

A CSX spokesperson told Trains that the use of cameras and cell phone detection devices is for safety reasons.

An NS spokesperson also told the magazine that it will install more cameras this year and increase the number of locomotives equipped with cell phone detection devices.

Railroading as it Once Was: CR Rarity

January 11, 2017
Certainly one of the rarer units on Conrail, this former Lehigh Valley Alco RS-3 with a high short hood rests at the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, engine service facility in October 1977. Built for the Pennsylvania Railroad with a steam generator in that tall hood, it went to the LV as its 211. It would be the only unit of its kind on both the LV and CR roster, and would even retain this car body after it’s conversion in the RS-3 mod program. I believe this unit survives today, although with an EMD prime mover.
Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

GRR 1202 Back on the Road Again

October 3, 2016


Grand River Railroad No. 1202 blew a piston last week. The No. 12 piston – the sixth on the left side – burned a hole in the crown. Crews came in on Sunday and replaced it and the engine ran nicely after the crane and crew cleared out.

Photograph by Jeff Troutman

Indiana Northeastern Buys 6-Axle Power

September 24, 2016

The Indiana Northeastern Railroad has acquired a pair of six axle locomotives, its first.

indiana-northeasternUntil now the short line railroad that serves Indiana, Ohio and Michigan had relied on four-axle EMD diesels.

Now Indiana Northeastern has purchased a pair of SD40-2s from Motive Power Resources in Minooka, Illinois.

The units formerly worked for Canadian Pacific and Southern Pacific with the ex-SP unit still having its flared SD45 car-body.

Indiana Northeastern president Gale Shultz said two factors prompted his railroad to seek larger locomotives.

“In the next year, we have to equip for positive train control to get in and out of the Norfolk Southern yards at Montpelier, Ohio,” Shultz said. “We are running 85-car unit trains and I can’t see spending money on one of the old girls.”

Shultz said both SD40-2s have been rebuilt from the frame-up by Alstom Canada and were last used in a CSX Transportation lease fleet.

“’These are sixteen cylinders, new controls and wiring, we hope to have the first one here in a week,” he says.

Indiana Northeastern General Manager Troy Strane told Trains magazine that one six-axle unit will be paired with a four-axle unit to move unit grain trains.

“I think one of these can easily do the work equal to two or three of our four-axles. We have a lot of small hills and curves, its real railroading and moving these unit trains is rough on the power,” Strane said.

The SD40-2s are unlikely to be repainted into Indiana Northeastern colors until next spring because they are needed immediately to help with the grain harvest that is getting underway.

Market for New Locomotives Has Gone Soft

April 10, 2016

They look good, perform well and garner a lot of favorable publicity. But during a time when freight traffic is down, environmentally friendly locomotives are having a tough time finding buyers.

An analysis by Railway Age of Tier 4 compliant locomotives compared them with DOT-117 hazmat tank cars.

Both are well suited to achieve desirable goals, but those are not necessarily the most pressing or immediate goals of the railroad industry.

train image2Tier 4 refers to emission standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Although the railroad industry has embraced Tier 4, it doesn’t have enough Tier 4 compliant locomotives to pull its trains.

The railroad industry remains profitable and is outwardly optimistic about its future.

But month after month of reports from the Association of American Railroads show freight traffic in decline, particularly the coal business.

Some freight business has remained stable or achieved some growth, but that hasn’t been enough to offset the large losses resulting from falling coal traffic.

Those are not the conditions that are likely to lead to railroads wanting to buy new locomotives or tank cars.

Another falling commodity has been crude oil and the number of available tank cars exceeds the demand for them.

Likewise, Class 1 railroads have many locomotives in cold storage.

“Two years ago, every serviceable locomotive was reactivated,” said Oliver Wyman’s Jason Kuehn at Rail Equipment Finance 2016 in an interview with Railway Age. “Now, 15 percent or more of the road locomotive fleet is in storage. The price spread between natural gas and diesel has choked off interest in LNG and CNG-fueled locomotives. And Tier 4 emissions levels are so strict that they’ve halted the virtuous cycle supporting locomotive replacement. We’ve gone from the perfect storm to a dead calm in two short years.”

Railway Age reported that some locomotive builders and leasers are looking to the export market for business.

Progress Rail/EMD, GE Transportation, National Railway Equipment, MotivePower, Railserve, RJ Corman, Brookville Equipment, Knoxville Locomotive Works and Republic Locomotive are among the companies that have sent represents traveling to such places as China, India, Russia and South Africa in search of sales.

As a result of the soft U.S. market for locomotives, Railway Age said that you won’t find this year a builder offering something new and/or innovative.

Nonetheless, the companies are seeking to do what they can with what they have to serve what markets exist and to prepare for what they hope will be better times ahead.

That means tinkering with existing products and seeking to use technological advances to tweak them.