Posts Tagged ‘Wabtec Erie plant’

Wabtec Battery Locomotive to Test on BNSF

November 14, 2020

A FLXDrive battery-electric locomotive is expected to leave the Wabtec locomotive assembly plant soon to begin testing on BNSF.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the unit was spotted this week sitting outside the Erie plant with two new BNSF locomotives.

The battery-operated red and gray locomotive will be tested next year in California between Stockton and Barstow.

The project is being funded in part by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The test locomotive can operate independently, but testing is focus on using the unit to create a hybrid consist mixing diesel and electric power.

Wabtec to Cut 150 Jobs in Erie

October 19, 2020

Wabtec plans to eliminate 150 jobs at its Erie locomotive assembly plant between mid-November and the first quarter of 2021.

Those come on top of 300 previously announced layoffs.

A Wabtec spokesman said the job cuts were being made “to align with today’s volume realities,” explaining that locomotive orders have fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wabtec last week had announced that it was opening a facility at Neighborhood 19, an additive manufacturing facility at Pittsburgh International Airport that will build on the use of 3D printing technologies that are used at its Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania, facilities.

Erie Plant Has Picked Up Additional Work

June 4, 2020

It wasn’t that long ago that the General Electric locomotive assembly plant near Erie was in danger of closing it locomotive production lines.

But the facility was acquired a year ago by Wabtec and a report posted this week on the Trains magazine website indicates that business at the 111-year-old plant is picking up.

Work previously done in Boise, Idaho, at the Motive Power Industries plant, now a Wabtec property, has been moved to Erie.

That has included rebuilding of F40PH-2C locomotives used by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority into F40PH-3Cs.

Erie has also picked up the rebuilding of Brookville BL20GH locomotives for Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

That work included replacement of the original prime movers with a Tier 3-compliant QSK50 engine.

Work on the MPI-designed MP54AC locomotive built for commuter rail agencies is also expected to be performed at the Erie plant, which is located in suburban Lawrence Park.

And work is continuing in Erie on GECX 3000, which has been touted as the first all-battery-powered road locomotive.

The unit has been repainted into a Wabtec demonstrator livery and is expected to be tested this fall on BNSF.

Wabtec expects to continue to build foreign export locomotives in Erie with the latest being an order of 100 ES30ACis for Egyptian Railways.

That order is ticketed to be completed this month and shipped during the summer.

Some locomotive modernization work is being done in Erie, including rebuilding of CSX CM44ACs and Ahs.

Wabtec is also doing rebuilding work for Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern but most of that is being done in the former GE locomotive assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wabtec Tests Battery-Powered Locomotive near Erie

December 11, 2019

Wabtec this week tested a battery-powered locomotive on the test track outside its locomotive assembly plant in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Trains magazine reported that it was the first test run of such a locomotive

The unit tested is the first to rely primarily on batteries for propulsion and will be the first such locomotive to enter domestic mainline service.

The unit carries reporting mark GECX 6000 and was built to BNSF specifications including a C4 truck.

Trains said that once the testing is finished in the next few months, No. 6000 is expected to be painted into a Wabtec demonstrator livery.

First Modernized CSX AC4400CW Being Tested

September 25, 2019

CSX has given its first modernized AC4400CW a different look.

No. 7200 was released by the Wabtec locomotive assembly plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, in a livery of predominately gray and blue.

The unit was built by GE Transportation as CSX No. 202 and taken out of revenue service last April.

The renovation of the now numbered No. 7200 includes a new cab and electrical cabinet.

The unit is now being tested. CSX plans to have Wabtec modernize 50 AC units although most of the fleet is expected to be upgraded over the next few years.

Erie Locomotive Plant to Get Additional Work

September 19, 2019

The future is looking brighter for the former GE locomotive assembly plant in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Wabtec said this week it will move work now performed at its Motive Power Industries plant in Boise, Idaho, to the Erie facility in Lawrence Park.

Wabtec is reportedly interested in building passenger locomotives, something MPI specialized in doing.

GE Transportation had not built passenger-oriented locomotives for several years for the U.S. market.

Amtrak’s Genesis series of motive power was built by GE, but the passenger carrier is looking to replace those units with Chargers built by Siemens.

“Decisions like this are never easy but will help simplify and optimize the company’s manufacturing footprint in today’s cyclical environment, as well as better position Wabtec for success,” Wabtec said in a statement. “The company remains fully committed to all customer commitments and providing impacted employees with resources and benefits to manage the transition.”

MPI was acquired by Wabtec in 1999. It was previously controlled by Morrison Knudsen.

In recent years it built the MP36 commuter railroad locomotive, part of its MPXpress model line.

GE Transportation once teamed up with MPI to build a commuter locomotive, the HSP46 that used components made by both companies.

The unit encountered operating difficulties and few were built.

Currently, MPI builds and sells a Tier 4 compliant MP54AC commuter locomotive that thus far has only been purchased by Toronto GO Transit.

Industry observers note that MPI’s Idaho plant is small, has less than 500 employees and cannot be easily expanded.

It also lacks a dedicated test track, something the Erie facility has.

Catenary Being Removed From Erie Test Track

August 28, 2019

The catenary infrastructure on the former GE Transportation test track near Erie, Pennsylvania, is being removed.

Now owned by Wabtec, the 4-mile test track has had catenary since 1906. It is formally known as the East Erie Commercial Railroad.

Officials said that in recent years the catenary has suffered neglect and damage, and become a target for copper thieves.

The test track was once part of the Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company and has been used to test countless locomotives, including the famed GG1 electric motors of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Wabtec will retain some of the hardware from the catenary infrastructure and has not ruled out the possibility of building electric locomotives at the Erie plant.

The electricity to the catenary system was switched off in the 1990s due to fading locomotive sales and the preference of most customers for diesel engines.

In 2016 a falling tree severed the wires. That area also was targeted by copper thieves and at one point the work of the thieves caused some wires to fall.

Inspectors also found that some of the wood poles supporting the catenary had rotted to the point that they created a potential safety hazard to crews operating on the line.

Workers OK New Contract at Erie Locomotive Plant

June 16, 2019

Union workers in Erie, Pennsylvania, last week ratified a new contract with Wabtec that will bring labor peace to the locomotive assembly plant for the next four years.

Members of locals 506 and 618 of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America approved the pact after 128 days of negotiations and a nine-day strike in March. The union represents 1,700 workers.

The former GE Transportation facility in Lawrence Park had been threatened with closure.

News reports indicated that both sides gave in on some of their demands.

New hires will be paid less than existing employees but be put on a 10-year path toward reaching the top of the pay scale. Current employees will continue to be paid at the existing wage rates.

Wabtec agreed to continue building new locomotive at the Erie plant operating and to hire 100 new workers, although that was short of the 400 jobs the union had wanted.

The two sides also compromised on overtime with Wabtec agreeing that it would be voluntary and not mandatory as the company had sought.

Wabtec Erie Workers to Vote on Contract

June 10, 2019

Union workers at the Wabetec plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, have reached a tentative four-year contract agreement to end a dispute that had triggered a nine-day strike in March.

The pact will considered by members of United Electrical, Machine and Radio Workers of America in a June 12 vote. The union represents 1,700 members in two locals in the Erie area.

The workers are employed at the former General Electric locomotive assembly plant in Lawrence Park.

Since March the two sides have engaged in 90 days of mediated bargaining and two days of working.

News reports indicate that both sides made concessions, but the union won a promise of job security, including Wabtec’s agreement to add 100 jobs by the end of the contract.

Wabtec, based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilmerding, agreed to pay existing employees an average of $35 an hour, but demanded that new hires be paid an average of $22 an hour.

Eventually the two sides agreed that new employees would be paid less but rise to the full union wage scale over a 10-year period.

The company also agreed that overtime would be voluntary and not mandatory.

During the negotiations, Wabtec had described Erie as the least competitive of its 80 plants and threatened to move a substantial amount of work out of Erie.

Even before Wabtec acquired the Erie plant earlier this year its previous owner GE had long been shifting work to a newer and non-union plant in Fort Worth, Texas, amid a challenging market for new locomotives.

GE had at one point announced that it would end locomotive production in Erie, although it said it continue to have a ongoing although largely unspecified role.

The new contract, if it’s ratified, will apparently allay the fears that work will be moved away from Erie.

Wabtec has talked about adding new work and making investments in the Erie plant.

Greg Sbrocco, Wabtec’s senior vice president of global operations, described the contract agreement as “a good first step at driving competitiveness at the Erie plant.”