CN buys AC locomotives

by MM&D staff

MONTREAL, Quebec: In anticipation of future growth in traffic, CN has made a large locomotive purchase.

The company has committed to buying 161 new locomotives—65 new and 96 second-hand (which will be upgraded).

The first deliveries will occur next year when 14 of 35 ES44AC locomotives from GE Transportation and 30 D70ACe locomotives from Electro-Motive Diesel will be handed over.

CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, Keith Creel, made note of the technology powering those engines.

“The program includes the acquisition of alternating-current locomotives (AC), which will represent a first for CN. Our current fleet of approximately 1,900 locomotives employs direct-current (DC) traction technology, which has served us well because of the overall favourable grades of our network.

“We will harness the key advantage of AC traction—much higher adhesion or train-pulling ability at low speeds—in assigning the new AC units to heavy-haul coal service in northern British Columbia and Alberta, where steep grades and sharp rail curvature make heavy demands on our locomotives.”

Besides the AC units, CN will purchase more traditional engines as well. It has agreed to acquire 42 second-hand GE Dash 8-40C locomotives, 11 leased GE Dash 8-40C locomotives, and 43 second-hand EMD SD60 locomotives.

Creel says the new purchases will improve the fleet while improving service.

“CN’s locomotive acquisition program represents a balanced, capital-effective approach to handle expected volume growth over the next two-to-five years and to meet the locomotive requirements resulting from customer focused service plans.

“The new and used motive power will enhance operational efficiency and reduce fuel consumption by permitting the retirement of older, high-maintenance locomotives and the cascading of less fuel-efficient main-line units into less-demanding yard and local switching operations, while providing additional locomotives to accommodate increased traffic.”