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Rail News Home Mechanical

December 2007



Rail News: Mechanical

Market power



In 2007, there were more than 700 locomotives in service at U.S. transit agencies, according to the American Public Transportation Association’s Transit Vehicle Database. For the most part, only commuter railroads use locomotives to pull their rail cars and of those agencies, some operate electric multiple units, which don’t require locomotive power, over much of their system.

But the total number of locomotives in service in the commuter-rail market has risen in recent years, as some transit agencies are bulking up their fleets to accommodate growing ridership, while other agencies either have recently launched commuter-rail service or plan to in the near future.

At MTA Metro-North Railroad, locomotive purchases are made in cycles, says Tim McCarthy, director of equipment in the agency’s capital engineering department.

“Our fleet is only about 50 locomotives, so we don’t have enough to have a program going all the time,” he says.

Good As New
Currently in rehab mode, the agency is taking delivery of one GP40PH-2 locomotive and six GP40FH-2M units that were overhauled by MotivePower Inc. under an $8 million contract. The locomotive builder has delivered five locomotives to date; the remaining two are scheduled to be delivered in February 2008.

The agency also has awarded a $43 million contract to GE - Transportation to overhaul 31 P32AC-DM Genesis locomotives. As of press time, five of the locomotives had been delivered; the remainder are scheduled to be delivered by December 2011.

And next year, Metro-North might advertise a contract to overhaul several F40 locomotives, says McCarthy.

Metro-North’s purchasing some new locomotives, too. This month, the agency expects to take delivery of the first of 12 switcher/shuttle locomotives being built by Brookville Equipment Co. under a $22.3 million contract. The builder is scheduled to deliver the remaining locomotives by May 2008.

GO Transit’s adding new power, as well. The agency has ordered 27 MP40 locomotives from MotivePower and retains an option to order 26 more.

MotivePower began delivering the locomotives in October; delivery is scheduled to be complete in November 2008.


The 4,000-horsepower locomotives will enable GO Transit to improve reliability, increase train speed from 80 mph to 95 mph, retire older power and operate 12-car trains, according to the agency. The new locomotives are first being introduced on the Lakeshore West, Lakeshore East and Milton lines, where the agency is lengthening station platforms to accommodate longer trains.

In the pipeline
MotivePower’s also building locomotives for the Southern California Regional Rail Authority and Metropolitan Council of Minnesota. In June, the agencies exercised options to each purchase four additional MPXpress® locomotives as part of a multi-agency procurement. The New Mexico Mid-Region Council of Governments, which operates Rail Runner Express service, exercised an option for four additional MPXpress units, too. The locomotives are scheduled to be delivered in 2008 and 2009.

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has placed an order with MotivePower for 10 locomotives for a Provo-to-Salt Lake City commuter-rail line. Scheduled to be delivered during the next three years, the locomotives will be the same as 11 units UTA took delivery of earlier this year for its Weber County-to-Salt Lake City FrontRunner line, which is scheduled to open in spring.

What’s to Come
Meanwhile, several transit agencies are considering making locomotive purchases in the near future.

Next year, Trinity Railway Express (TRE) plans to begin the procurement process for two low-emission locomotives.

“We will be looking at such factors as cost, proven availability and reliability of the technology, compatibility with the existing locomotive fleet and our ability to secure additional funding for the locomotives,” said Dallas Area Rapid Transit Vice President of Commuter Rail and TRE Director Wayne Freisner in an emailed statement.

Also next year, the Maryland Transit Administration plans to purchase 26 diesel locomotives for its MARC commuter-rail service. The procurement will enable the agency to improve reliability and expand service, according to the agency.

In addition, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority plans to purchase 38 new diesel electric locomotives, as well as two hybrid locomotives for the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad. Since May, the agency has been leasing an N-ViroMotive™ locomotive from National Railway Equipment Co. The three-engine, 2,100-horsepower GenSet locomotive is designed to reduce NOx emissions by 80 percent and particulate matter emissions by 50 percent to 65 percent; and cut fuel usage between 35 percent and 50 percent.

International orders abound

The transit locomotive market’s been alive and well on the international side, as well. The following is an overview of international orders locomotive builders are working to fill:

  • Alstom has signed a contract with Moroccan National Railways to provide 20 new-generation, high-traction-power Prima electric locomotives, which will run throughout the Moroccan network for passenger and freight service. Alstom also will maintain the locomotives for two years.
  • In early 2007, Bombardier Transportation obtained a $487 million contract to supply another 150 E464 locomotives to Italy’s Trenitalia. The railway already has ordered 538 of the locomotives from Bombardier. To become part of the agency’s passenger-rail fleet, the locomotives will reach top speeds of 100 mph. The 150 units are scheduled to be delivered between February 2008 and March 2010.
  • Bombardier’s also filling an order for 60 high-speed locomotives for the Spanish National Railways, which will use the locomotives to power Talgo trains traveling at speeds up to 250 mph on the Madrid-to-Barcelona line.
  • Siemens Transportation Systems is manufacturing 60 electric multi-system locomotives for the Belgian National Railway Co. under a $275 million contract, which includes an option for 60 additional units. The Eurosprinter ES60U3-type locomotives are scheduled to be delivered between January 2009 and June 2010.
  • Wabtec Rail obtained a five-year, $40 million contract to maintain 31 high-speed locomotives for United Kingdom-based rail equipment lessor HSBC Rail, which provides rolling stock and management services for the passenger- and freight-rail markets. Wabtec will be responsible for all maintenance and running repairs for the Class 91 locomotives, which run on the UK’s East Coast mainline.

— Angela Cotey



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Browse articles on locomotive transit locomotive APTA MTA-Metro North MotivePower GE Transportation GO Transit Southern California Regional Rail New Mexico rail Trinity Railway Express DART Dallas Area Rapid Transit Maryland Transit Massachusetts Bay

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