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Diesel heavy haul across Europe

by DoDo Sun Jul 5th, 2009 at 03:36:32 AM EST

In a two-part series, I covered the modern modular electric locomotives that emerged to cater to operators in our brave new liberalised railway world. Now I'll cover another market segment: the heavy diesels for open-access freight train operators.

Witness the brave new world in full bloom:

  1. the locomotive is of US maker EMD's JT42CWR type;
  2. it was built in Canada;
  3. the design was originally for Britain;
  4. this one is owned by UK leasing company Porterbrook;
  5. this Anglo-Saxon on the continent was leased to Belgian open-access freight operator DLC;
  6. this train ran on rails of German Railways infrastructure branch DB Netz.

DLC(PB) PB 12 with a container train near Thüngersheim (in the Main river valley near Würzburg) on 21 August 2008. Photo by Philipp Schäfer from Bahnbilder.de

Like in the two-parter on electric locos, there will be bits on industrial history and technology, European unification, company politics, and a review of current models according to producers – this time, in groups.

Why diesels?

Let me show that map of overhead line voltage systems across Europe again:

Sketch of the distribution of electrification systems across Europe (excluding city railways and single branch-lines) [own work]

  • Yellow: 25 kV, 50 Hz AC (alternating current)
  • Red: 15 kV, 16.7 Hz AC
  • Purple: 11 kV, 16.7 Hz AC (all of these are metre-gauge)
  • Green: 3 kV DC (direct current)
  • Blue: 1.5 kV DC
  • Light blue: third-rail 750 kV DC
  • Grey: only diesel traction or no railways

To answer the section title: on one hand, there are diesel-only areas. On the other hand, before the appearance of the new multi-system electric locomotives, the alternative to speed up cross-border traffic were diesels.

Indeed, the new open-access need for heavy diesels first emerged on a very specific sub-market: trains to and from the big ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam. There were non-electrified tracks in the ports and in Belgium, and all four voltage systems on the rest of the connecting routes.

The use of heavy diesels quickly spread to other uses, including more long runs under overhead lines: for big industries that had access only to a branch-line, transport could be sped up by not changing locomotives.

The little Big Three

In part two on electrics, I indicated that the electric loco platform of all three giants of the rail industry (Bombardier, Siemens, Alstom) has recently been extended to include diesel-electrics. There have been single large orders (for Alstom/Siemens: 400 [Fret] SNCF class [4]75000, for Siemens: 100 ÖBB class 2016, which is passenger/freight).

However, the private market for freight diesels is dominated by other players. The reasons: higher prices, lower power, problematic diesel engines, few references. But the makers want all of this to change.

Lithuanian Railways LG ER20 is a six-axle, 2 MW, Russian broad-gauge version ("ER20 CF") of Siemens's EuroRunner. A new version with up to 3.5 MW is planned.
ER20 002 and a sister between Kaišiadorys and Žasliai (Vilnius–Kaunas line in Lithuania) on 16 April 2008. Photo by Darius Höhne from railcolor.net

From Russia with power

For the new cross-border runs to the BeNeLux ports, operators first reached back to surplus existing stock. In particular, a family of 2.2 MW six-axle heavy diesels originally supplied from the Soviet Union to East Germany's DR, nickname "Ludmilla". These robust machines were made by Voroshilovgrad Locomotive Factory (today Lugansk Locomotive Factory in Ukraine), with motors made by Kolomna Locomotive Factory (today a part of Russian Transmashholding).

The DB class 241 are a couple of Ludmillas remotorised with a 2.94 MW engine specially for the port traffic.
A DB 241 en route to Antwerp on 13 June 2007, with the viewing tower at the Belgian-Dutch-German border tripoint visible. Photo by user André @ Eindhoven from Flickr

The broad-gauge (and larger cross-section) networks of Russia and Ukraine have plenty of diesel-only lines for the makers (the above mentioned two and Bryansk, also part of Transmashholding) to keep developing and building new types. What's more, Russia ditched a remotorisation programme using US-made diesel engines, pointing to the increased fuel efficiency and cleaner exhausts of new domestically produced ones.

Bryansk's 2TE25A "Vityaz" double locomotive (2x2.5 MW, 2x6 axles) is the most modern freight diesel type in Russia: it made the switch to AC motors.
2TE25A 001 at the 'All-Russian Research and Design Institute of Rolling Stock' in Kolomna, 14 August 2008. Photo by user Mitra from Parovoz

However, while old and repowered Ludmillas are running across the EU, there are no new standard-gauge export versions from Russia or Ukraine.

American giants

EMD (formerly a division of General Motors) and General Electric have been the top makers of diesel-electrics in the West for half a century, with exports all around the world. They are also state-of-the-art – for example, they made the switch from wound-field DC to asynchronous AC motors (which I described as crucial for electric locomotives) in the nineties.

For EMD and GE, bringing their products to Europe is some challenge:

  • Above all, weight has to be reduced by a third for Europe's weaker rails.

  • Height and width also has to be reduced for European clearances.

  • In the US, locos usually run in multiple, on long runs. In Europe, they usually run alone, and not long enough to justify the hassle of turning them around before going back. Thus, big mainline locos here need to have drivers' cabins at both ends.

From the eighties, EMD supplied railways in Britain (which has an even narrower cross section than the rest of Europe) with a loco 'slimmed-down' as above (Class 59), and from 1997, with an updated version (Class 66). EMD was quick to offer this to the operators of the emerging cross-border port services and other open-access traffic.

130 tons in the air: GB Railfreight 66725, fresh from Canada by ship, is unloaded in Newport Docks, 20 December 2006. Photo by Tom Bartlett from Class 66

Though the "Class 66" (the unofficial name 'inherited' from the first purchaser is much more used than the official "JT42CWR") has DC motors, the reliability and high traction effort ( = pulling force) lent by the six axles of the 2.46 MW type made it a hit with operators – less with drivers, who found it rather uncomfortable and noisy in the cab.

Rival GE for its part teamed up with ADtranz (today Bombardier) for a whole new design: the "Blue Tiger". GE gave the diesel engines, electric motors and the electronics (based on their export version for Asia, hence the name). This machine has the same power but higher traction effort than the EMD rival, due to its modern AC traction motors.

The wide cab and narrow body typical of American diesels look odd with a second cab added at the other end. At 23.41 m, the Blue Tiger is the longest single locomotive type on standard-gauge European rails.
LTH 330 091 in another port, that of Rostock/Germany, on 9 July 2006. Photo by Steffen Schulz from Bahnbilder.de


Diesel engines aren't all that great at starting from a standstill: they need to spin up to some speed to be efficient, to not cough. Thus, engineers looked for ways to transmit the torque from a motor axis spinning near its ideal speed to a wheel barely or not at all moving.

One method is to use electricity. The diesel engine runs a generator, and the currents generated power electric motors: that's a diesel-electric. Another method for transmission is to use the viscosity of a fluid pressed between two rotating discs: that's the diesel-hydraulic.

In the railway world, the diesel-electric became the preferred option, especially in heavy locomotives: diesel-hydraulic is more difficult to maintain, and lagged behind in maximum power. Yet, for some odd reason, hydraulic transmission was preferred in West Germany.

The phoenixes of Kiel (and Valencia)

One of the main makers in West Germany was Kiel-based MaK. In the nineties, its then owner Siemens did not see much future for diesel-hydraulic, while MaK's attempt to go diesel-electric (DE 1024 and its spin-off for Norway) was a failure – so  Siemens sold it off to a minor rail supplier named Vossloh.

Vossloh started a programme of modernisation and modularisation – and, with the help of the emerging open-access local freight operators, its sales exploded in a way they didn't expect in their wildest dreams. (You see one of their smaller products in a wind power plant's port in Jérôme's photo in the Tuesday OT.) Vossloh's rise can be epitomised by the fact that it was them who first broke the Franco-German rail technology firewall (SNCF class 61000II).

Vossloh also wanted its share of the heavy diesel market, and (over two decades after the last big diesel-hydraulic made in Kiel) created the G 2000BB. This loco is powerful (2.24, some 2.7 MW), but with only four axles, traction effort is limited compared to the previously shown rivals.

The special asymetric look of the first twenty Vossloh G 2000BB was meant to enable both shunting from one end and line service from both ends (i.e. whichever end is in front). Later, they switched to full-width cabs (the Blue Tiger look).
Neusser Eisenbahn #9 near Dordrecht/Netherlands on 5 May 2006. Photo by Leen Dortwegt from Bahnbilder.de

To eclipse the American six-axle rivals, Vossloh started new development into uncharted territory, in terms of hydraulic transmission maximum power. However, in the middle it, they made a total U-turn.

Macosa was a company in Valencia/Spain making diesels under license from American EMD. When Alstom gained control of Macosa, it started developing a heavy diesel, incorporating some structural elements of its PRIMA electric locomotive platform, but diesel engine and electric motors were still from EMD (from the same line as those in the 'Class 66'). Vossloh bought this factory, and put its name on the finished Macosa-EMD-Alstom design: the 3.18 MW Euro 4000.

Clean technology and... well, sort of. Also note the unmistakable Alstom front design.
ATC 335 014 (of Rotterdam-based, but UK-originated and RBS-owned leaser/operator Angel Trains Cargo) near Barracas, Spain, on 28 October 2008. Photo by Sergio Moreno Pillo from railcolor.net

Vossloh's about-face left its supplier of hydraulic transmissions stranded with a fully-developed product. This company, Voith Turbo, then thought big: 'we are longstanding members of the rail industry, can't we build a locomotive around that gear on our own?'

The immediate result was the Maxima 40CC, the most powerful diesel-hydraulic ever at 3.6 MW. The longer-term result was that Voith Turbo built its own factory in Kiel, and already won a big order for smaller locos (future DB class 260) – a footing to stand on while Maxima 40CC orders are in single digits (commercial deliveries started this year).

At 23.2 m, the Voith Maxima 40CC is another very long machine. And its style designer must hate curves.
Stock-Transport 264 003 with powdered lime tank cars near Oberkochen (north of Ulm, Germany) on 17 May 2009. Photo by Martin Respondek from Drehscheibe Online Foren

The makers also offer down-rated versions of the above two monsters (Vossloh Euro 3000, Voith Maxima 30CC and 20BB), but with barely a sale in freight version so far.

The future?

In the last decade, the two American makers focused on improving fuel efficiency and decreasing harmful exhausts. Now they bring those technological improvements to Europe, too – while other diesel engine suppliers try to keep up.

EMD updated the 'Class 66' (JT42CWRM) with a new diesel engine, also righting the cab problem (see changed side window; and also third sidewall door on the second photo). Meanwhile, GE saw Bombardier abandoning the Blue Tiger for its own design. As replacement, GE is bringing out a new European export version of its North American Evolution series: the 2.76 MW PowerHaul. For future orders, GE will partner with Tülomsaş for assembly in Turkey.

The (wider) continental version of the GE PowerHaul. (First delivery will be in the narrower UK version, though.) The same design school as the Voith Maxima... Drawing from GE

However, one thing clouds the future for the makers: the big diesel market is set to shrink.

The multi-voltage-system electric locomotives are now up and running: while two have to replace one six-axle diesel, the higher train speed is a plus. On the infrastructure front, the Netherlands opened the Betuweroute freight-only railway from Rotterdam to the German border in 2007, while Belgium finished the electrification of its Antwerp–Aachen line at the end of last year.

On a foggy winter day, Belgian state railways SNCB 7781 and 7774 (MaK/Siemens/Vossloh local freight/shunter type G 1205) pass the giant Moresnet bridge en route to Aachen on 17 December 2008 with a short transfer – but the activation of the overhead line ended diesel rule a few days earlier. Photo by Christoph Schmitz from RailFanEurope.net

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

On a purely aesthetical note: for my taste, most of these new soot spewers look ugly, especially in contrast with older stylings like that of the Ludmillas.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 06:28:49 AM EST
  1. All power ratings I gave are for the diesel engines -- the power on the wheel is roughly 10% less, due to losses in the transmission (and the consumption of auxiliary systems).

  2. None of the EU-based makers build their own locomotive diesel engines. Beyond EMD/GM, GE and Kolomna, the main suppliers are: Caterpillar (based in Peoria, Illinois, USA), MTU Friedrichshafen (in Baden-Württenberg, Germany), Cummins (based in Columbus, Indiana, USA).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 06:29:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot another diesel engine maker: Ango Belgian Corporation (The 'Anglo' refers to the original investors a century ago; today it is owned by a Luxembourgian firm). But, of types presently in production only the Voith Maxima uses an ABC engine.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 5th, 2009 at 06:20:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of the models made in Europe are more tuned for what I didn't cover here: passenger service. (You already saw Bombardier's TRAXX P160 DE.)

  • Alstom/Vossloh Euro ...: not only was the largest European delivery so far a passenger version to the Spanish national railways (28 Euro 3000 as RENFE class 334), but they could sell the largest batch back into the USA (NJ Transit's 33 3.13 MW PL42AC, see Wikipedia photo below), and hoped for more - but the new Buy American laws put a stop to that.

  • Kolomna: the main product family, TEP70, is mostly 160 km/h, 2.92 MW express locomotives (below in the latest, TEP70BS version in Lithuanian colours from Flickr). Note that with TEP80, a 4.55 MW version not produced in series, Kolomna holds the world speed record for diesel locos since 1993: 271 km/h.

  • Lugansk: the Ukrainian company builds the 160 km/h, 3.1 MW TEP150 (below on photo from RailFan Europe.net). It got a modern front and a new engine, but the basic design is similar to the 'Ludmillas'.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 06:32:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Europe the engine builder certifies the locomotive meets the applicable emissions standards, in the US it is the locomotive builder, this along with a toughening of the crash standards convinced Alstom to not bid for anymore passenger locomotives, not any "Buy American" laws. MPI doesn't have any competition for passenger diesels in the US because EMD and GE can't figure out how to make any money with such a small market. When Amtrak is ready to replace their current GE's then you will see more bids.
by jfbeaulieu on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 12:06:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm... no. First, the Valencia factory is not Alstom anymore. Second,

FR Doc E8-25063

[Federal Register: October 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 204)]


SUMMARY: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has asked the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to waive its Buy America requirements on the basis of public interest to permit Vossloh Espa[ntilde]a S.A. (Vossloh) to manufacture and assemble two pilot locomotives in Spain. MotivePower, Inc., a domestic competitor to Vossloh has asked FTA to deny MBTA's request.

Federal Transit Administration - Legislation, Regulations & Guidance

November 14, 2008

I write in response to your letter dated September 3, 2008, in which you ask the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to waive its Buy America requirements by authorizing the final assembly of two pilot locomotives in Spain.  After careful consideration, FTA has decided to deny your request for the reasons outlined below.

MBTA puts off buying new locomotives for commuter rail service - The Boston Globe

January 24, 2009


The decision to halt the order is tied closely to a contentious contract dispute between the two companies that bid on the project. Grabauskas said the T was likely to face a long and expensive legal battle regardless of which bidder it chose: Vossloh Espana S.A., a Spanish unit of a German company that was the low bidder but initially wanted to build two model locomotives outside of the United States, or MotivePower Inc. of Boise, Idaho, which was challenging Vossloh's bid because of the federal "Buy America" regulation.

But the T's financial problems - "probably the worst financial condition that the T has been in in its history," according to Grabauskas - appear to have sealed the decision. Grabauskas said he is estimating a $140 million to $160 million deficit in the coming fiscal year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 01:44:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Buy American" only kicks in if you use Federal money.
by jfbeaulieu on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 10:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are there any potential buyers who would do without federal matching funds?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 8th, 2009 at 10:14:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of them might have that as an option ... while the Federal Matching Funds are often essential for the corridor ... track improvements or new track, signaling upgrades, grade separations, crossing work ... its a choice of the applicant project whether that includes rolling stock, especially since the infrastructure and the operator is not always in the same organizational structure.

However, since rolling stock is eligible for federal matching funds, that seems more likely as a funding strategy for HSR (which, recall, can include 110mph diesel and 125mph electric services at the "Emerging" and "Regional" HSR tiers, in addition to the "Express" HSR which would be called HSR in Europe and Asia), which would be in a position to franchise the operations, with the franchisee providing the rolling stock, or else to fund the rolling stock with revenue bonding.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 04:31:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't you get around the Buy American rules by working in a partnership with an American company? Airbus seems to be doing that in the Air Force tanker deal, but that's DOD funding, not "Federal" funding...
by asdf on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 09:36:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure that the rules for the main Military Industrial Complex subsidy are different to the rules for funding of applications for federal matching funds for transport projects.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 11:22:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition, I note that given that Vossloh España's products use EMD diesel engines, and given that the PL42AC does have permission to run in the USA, neither emissions requirements nor US crashworthiness standards can be a problem.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 02:04:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is much more to diesel engines meeting emissions standards that just the basic engine. The radiators and their cooling fans, the charge air intercoolers, etc. If you were to take a EMD SD70 locomotive which meets US EPA Tier 1 emissions standards, park it alongside a EMD SD70M-2 locomotive that meets US EPA Tier 2 emissions standards, then take the motor out of the SD70M-2 and install it in the SD70, you would have a SD70 that still would only meet Tier 1 standards. This is because the radiator is not a dual circuit system, and you do not have a large enough charge air cooling system.

Re: the PL42C having permission to run in the US. It did at the time it was built however the standards were raised since then and it would no longer meet the new standards, hence no more can be sold here without reworking the design.

It is a similar situation in Europe, Bombardier replaced the TRAXX 1 bodyshell with the TRAXX 2 bodyshell to meet the tougher collision standards relating to protection of the driver's cabin in a collision. So all the electrical components of the TRAXX 2 will fit inside the TRAXX 1 bodyshell, and the TRAXX 1 is certified to operate in 3 European countries, but no more can be built.

by jfbeaulieu on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 11:17:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But, can meeting these improved standards be considered a problem? TRAXX 1 -> 2 and EuroSprinter 3 pre-2007 -> EuroSprinter 3 post-2007 was not THAT difficult. Methinks meeting US Tier 1 crashworthiness standards when starting from European UIC standards was much bigger a challenge than going from there to the current ones would be. Regarding emissions, Vossloh already claims on the Euro 4000:

Exhaust emissions: EU 97/68 Stage IIIA (EPA Tier II eq)

The EMD 16-710 G3C-T2 engine is certainly EPA Tier 2, and it shouldn't be difficult to find fitting equipment to upgrade vs. the PL42AC even if the European ones would not be. At any rate, the locos Vossloh did offer to MBTA (and one other operator I can't find again) would have been under the new regulations.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 8th, 2009 at 10:12:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a photograph of a SD70 that meets Tier 0 emissions;

Here meeting Tier 1;

And here meeting Tier 2;

And here is for GE

Dash-9 meeting Tier 1;

GEVO meeting Tier 2;

Note the major increase in radiator size. Not visible is the fact that the cooling systems are now microprocessor controlled, and must maintain engine temperatures within much tighter limits. On the GE GEVO
shown notice the large boxy structure ahead of the radiator, this is a air to air intercooler that cools the intake air after it leaves the turbocharger and before it enters the diesel engine.

How tough can it be to meet the new emissions standards? Tough enough to convince Caterpillar to leave the market for building diesel engines for trucks. They couldn't build a diesel engine with acceptable reliability at a cost that was competitive. They had a significant chunk of the market.

Tier 3 isn't going to be too bad, but Tier 4 is going to be real trouble.

by jfbeaulieu on Thu Jul 9th, 2009 at 01:06:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the details and the great photo links.

What I meant was that, would Vossloh be incapable to produce the proper extra equipment to fit on the EMD engine (new radiators, engine motor cooling, stricter temperature control, exhaust filters), it could go shopping for suppliers.

However, let's at last have a look at European and US emissions standards in comparison. The Euro 4000 complies with EU Stage IIIA (2004/26/EC). For locomotive diesels above 2000kW, that standard is HC: 0.4 g/kWh, CO: 3.5 g/kWh, NOx: 7.4 g/kWh, PM: 0.2 g/kWh. Converted to the units of the US standard, that's  HC: 0.3 g/bhp-hour, CO: 2.6 g/bhp-hour, NOx: 5.5 g/bhp-hour, PM: 0.15 g/bhp-hour.

EPA Tier 2 for line-haul locos is HC: 0.3 g/bhp-hour, CO: 1.5 g/bhp-hour, NOx: 5.5 g/bhp-hour, PM: 0.2 g/bhp-hour. The near-identity is not by accident (from the first link above):

Regulatory authorities in the EU, USA, and Japan have been under pressure from engine and equipment manufacturers to harmonize worldwide emission standards, in order to streamline engine development and emission type approval/certification for different markets. Stage I/II limits were in part harmonized with US regulations. Stage III/IV limits are harmonized with the US Tier 3/4 standards.

(However, for switchers, interestingly, the US standard is less strict while the EU one is more strict than for line-haul - must be due to the many downtown freight yards and passenger station service here.)

If my short read-up was correct, the primary emission effect of air intake temperature reduction/regulation is in NOx emissions, with the second effect being a general one in improved fuel efficiency. Can you tell me what part of the locomotive machinery impacts the one emission in which the US standard is (much) stronger, CO?

Finally, I found this Vossloh presentation on development to meet new emissions standards (unfortunately a technologically shallow 'managerial' one), which confirms something I read earlier in a non-authoritative source: that the NJT PL42AC is homologated for EPA Tier 1, but designed for Tier 2 (p13).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 9th, 2009 at 05:33:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, service club meeting last night finished late. Re-thinking my position EMD would have to be involved with the Vossloh bid anyway. The big problem is everything keeps getting heavier, bigger radiators, more coolant, I shouldn't have said it wasn't possible.  I wonder what would have happened if EMD lead the consortium in Name for the bid, even if Vossloh did most of the work? The MPI locomotives are roughly 136 tonnes on 4 axles.
by jfbeaulieu on Fri Jul 10th, 2009 at 09:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder what would have happened if EMD lead the consortium in Name for the bid, even if Vossloh did most of the work?

You mean, politically? In the decision, it seems the crucial problem was Vossloh's insistence to assemble the first two units in Valencia/Spain.

BTW, what engine would the MPI locomotives use? EMD, GE, or neither?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 01:15:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The funny part is MPI offers two choices, either the 710G3C rated at 4000hp. from EMD or the EMD designed 3600hp 645F3B built by MPI using a crankcase assembly manufactured by GE. MPI and GE are the two largest suppliers of replacement parts (mainly remanufactured) for EMD 645E and F series engines. MPI is a subsidiary of WABTEC (formerly Westinghouse Air Brake Co.).
by jfbeaulieu on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 06:55:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MPI and GE are the two largest suppliers of replacement parts (mainly remanufactured) for EMD 645E and F series engines

Heh, I noticed the oddity on GE's page, wanted to ask about that too...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 02:20:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally speaking, carbon monoxide is the result of incomplete combustion. In gasoline automotive engines, three methods of limiting it are:
  • Combustion chamber shaped to promote swirling of the gasses.
  • Lean mixture (more air per unit of fuel).
  • Catalytic converters to convert CO to CO2.

I'm not sure that swirl techniques are practical on direct injection engines (including diesels), because the burning happens on the surfaces of the fuel droplets before they get a chance to evaporate.
by asdf on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 09:56:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From that, I take, it is only influenced by the engine and the fuel?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 11:03:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm at the limit of my knowledge on the subject, but for example, the engine temperature influences the combustion, so the cooling system indirectly affects the CO production.

Here's an interesting article on the Honda Insight hybrid, where they went "all out" in trying to meet low emission and high economy targets. There are a LOT of tricks in use...not all applicable to railroad engines, obviously, but there is an interesting parallel between the two.


by asdf on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 10:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Could you tell me, for the same loco types as in the five linked pictures, roughly what distance they can go between refuelling?

  2. Is my impression right that on the US market, GE and EMD relate somewhat like Siemens and Bombardier here? (i.e. the GE diesels are overall better quality since the nineties, but EMD is good at sales)?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 01:27:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1. This is a tough question since there are so many variables. The EMD diesel will burn roughly 191.9 gallons per hour at full throttle.

The GE Dash9-44CW will burn 210 gallons per hour at full throttle.

Both locomotives offer a 5000 gallon fuel tank.

2. GE had been better at quality since about 1995 and had been steady building a lead on EMD. The debut of GE's GEVO series has put some tarnish on GE's reputation.
EMD like the rest of GM had gotten arrogant, and poor at customer service. It took too long for GM to sell EMD and EMD's Engineering languished. EMD has been slowing gaining ground back, but the worry is how committed are EMD's new owners.

by jfbeaulieu on Sat Jul 11th, 2009 at 07:08:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is an interesting story about railroads and their potential electrification...


by asdf on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 10:01:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting article. I would frame the following and give it as present to all European decisionmakers...

Why don't the railroads just build the new tracks, tunnels, switchyards, and other infrastructure they need? America's major railroad companies are publicly traded companies answerable to often mindless, or predatory, financial Goliaths.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 12:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They can also wipe out the stockholders if they go bankrupt, as many have.
by jfbeaulieu on Mon Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder how that engine access door got crunched in on the GEVO???
by asdf on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 09:39:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. I notied the bent shape on that (BTW, exceptional with the other three locos in the background) photo, but now that you say it, I see even the railings are bent on both sides. Checking the caption:

Remarks: BNSF 3447, the Golden Globe switcher, shoves damaged ES44AC into the shop. A few new doors and railings are needed at least. The damage was caused by running through a trailer, see comment below.

...which says:

Posted by Mike Vandenberg on July 2, 2009

This was the lead unit on a coal train that plowed through an empty semi trailer in Perham, MN last week.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 11:08:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diesels replaced steamers as autonomous locomotives (which carry fuel and generate power on-board). But, for long, there was an engine type that was hoped to replace even diesel: the gas turbine, also known as jet engine. However, unlike that of an airplane, a locomotive's power use varies greatly in time -- and a gas turbine tends to waste fuel when idling. Add to that difficult maintenance, and you see why turbine locomotives were rarely successful, not to speak of being widespread.

Now, the latest attempt for an economic turbine locomotive comes from Russia. (Photo from Railway Gazette.)

The state-developed GT1 has a monstrous power of 8.3 MW (in January, it pulled a 159-car, 15,000-ton test train). One half of the apparent twin locomotive houses the turbine and generator, the other the fuel tank, but all wheelsets (2x6) are driven by electric motors.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 06:34:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wärtsilä reciprocating engines used in static trigeneration (power, heat, cold) achieve a remarkable 90%+ efficiency in extracting the energy out of fuel (oil, biofuel, gas etc). Is there any company using trigeneration for rail? (I'm thinking of refrigerated cars here).

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 09:35:55 AM EST
remarkable 90%+ efficiency

Well, they have it easy: they don't have to change power output much and fast.

trigeneration for rail

Depends on what you consider cogeneration. All passenger diesels also generate the train heating resp. the electricity to run the air conditioners that cool. But heating utilising the diesel motor's heat itself - no. As for why not, I can think of a few reasons: on a moving train, you'll have maintenance issues, as well as weight. (Older trains had steam heating, powered by a boiler on the locomotive; but it was better to switch to supplying electricity.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 01:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is true - it takes 10 minutes for the power generating plants to get up to speed. But in load balancing on power networks that is sufficient.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 01:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but I just love these diaries. I wish my father was alive to read them...he was a big railway fan, built models and such. One of the few times I ever saw him get excited about anything was when we saw a "rolling drop."
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 11:16:12 AM EST
ET's advantage (imo) is the wide range of detailed knowledge from different disciplines, coupled with a readiness to share in a less than nerdy manner ;-) This is like Operational Research in it's purer form.

I think we could do it better, but it is pretty amazing if you think about it, and compare with other sites.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 01:45:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My favorite of all time for aesthetics is the GG1 used by the Pennsylvania Railroad. I got my Lionel electric trains when I was a kid in the 1940's and still have them. However I've never been willing to spend the money for their version, which keeps going up in price as the years go on.

It is after all a toy train system, not a model train offering as the serious fans engage in.

The real thing:


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Jul 4th, 2009 at 05:26:36 PM EST
And fascinating. Thanks!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 5th, 2009 at 04:37:30 AM EST
"The wide cab and narrow body typical of American diesels look odd..."

This narrow body style is the "hood" locomotive design favored by American railroads. Early American diesel-electric locomotives--and current engines--have the "cab body" or "carbody" design, where the locomotive body is the same width as a regular freight or passenger car, and the shell of the body is part of the structure of the engine. This allows the engineer to access the engine and electrical parts whilst being out of the weather, but it also makes it somewhat more difficult to do major repairs such as engine replacement.

The hood design is now almost universal in American freight locomotives, with a distinctly narrow body surrounding the engine and other components and a walkway outside. However, with the advent of the "safety" cab for the driver, the wide part of the locomotive has gotten longer, and the ever-larger cooling apparatus has produced large "wings" on the latest versions.

by asdf on Sun Jul 5th, 2009 at 12:08:59 PM EST
What I meant as odd was what you didn't quote: a second hood closing the other end. Then again, I see the two coupled locos on the photo in your comment give the same look, in the end.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 5th, 2009 at 03:23:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting to think about how the big steam engines were driven from the rear for decades--only since diesels has it become mandatory that the engineer be able to see where he's going!
by asdf on Sun Jul 5th, 2009 at 05:21:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Europe, there was an increase in maximum speeds in parallel; but, I suspect that simply a greater public attention to safety was the prime mover on both continents.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 6th, 2009 at 06:17:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Porterbrook locomotives now are owned by CB Rail. Though there are rumors that the owners of CB Rail, Babcock & Brown in Australia, are in trouble.

 DB Schenker with its purchase of EW&S has the largest fleet of EMD locomotives in Europe, 300+ locomotives. Even SNCF Fret has leased three Class 66s for its new Belgian subsidiary, SNCF Fret Benelux.

by jfbeaulieu on Mon Jul 6th, 2009 at 11:59:27 PM EST
That Belgian subsidiary is interesting that way. They now have four EMD 'Class 66' and two Vossloh G2000 -- neither of those types is SNCF familiar with. As apparent main workhorses in the diesel sector, they ordered 45(!) Bombardier TRAXX F140 DE -- without any SNCF experience with TRAXX, not to mention the few references of the TRAXX DE... some risk-taking there.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 02:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They have made a small move to reduce the number of new Diesel locomotives by transferring some to RFF, I suspect that the work was transferred along with the locomotives, Does it seem to you like SNCF Fret makes big expensive moves with no real strategy? What the heck are the going to do with 400+ big new diesels?
by jfbeaulieu on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 10:38:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I won't get clever of Fret. Maybe they just want to replace all their old line service diesels, irrespective of size?... However, if they are eyeing international traffic, that 2MW MTU engine adopted from the Siemens EuroRunners is both a little weak and a notorious problem child. (The Bombardier F140 DE have the latest update of it, don't know if it's any better.) The Belgian investment looks like the rushed effort of a latecomer (trying to keep up with DB Cargo/Railion/DB Schencker's voracious expansion from the UK to Poland, from Denmark to Italy).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 11:18:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if the reason for ordering the TRAXX diesels is because they know that they are going to have problems homologating the BB75000s in any other European country. The BB75000s being based on the Prima I platform may share the high track forces shown by the electric versions which only have limited access in Germany and Switzerland.
by jfbeaulieu on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 11:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A late add-on to this:

  1. The curve-going problem of the international SNCF Prima I (series [4]37000), i.e. the flanges hitting the rail profile, was mitigated in the version for Veolia (series 437500). I don't know if they applied the change in the international version 475000, but, given that they are in delivery now, I suspect they did.

  2. With some search starting from a recent news, I learnt that the 475000 will have 2.4 MW MTU R43 engines (the same as in the Bombardier TRAXX DE F140) starting from 475133.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 01:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I should also add: there won't be an awful lot of applications left for the SNCF international diesels. Apart from services for big industrial customers with nonelectrified access tracks:

  • The lightly used Strasbourg-Lauterbourg-Wörth/Germany line (check French electrification map) will be the only transit line for the 475000. (AFAIK Saarbrücken-Sarreguemines only sees freight traffic of local nature, e.g. the mining/steel industry just across the border.)

  • In Belgium, part of the Antwerp port railway remains, but not for much longer.

  • The "Iron Rhine" from Antwerp to Germany across the Southern tip of the Netherlands, if and when the Dutch-German section is re-opened, could stay catenary-free for a few years.

I don't know if SNCF also wants to go to the Netherlands, but there, the use of the ready-installed electrification of the harbour access of the Betuweroute is delayed to the end of this year only because of signalling (ETCS again...); other than that, there is Groningen-Leer/Germany in the North (map).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 14th, 2009 at 01:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One more note if you want to catch a Ludmila in Western Europe, hurry. With the severe recession, DB is disposing of theirs quickly.
by jfbeaulieu on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 12:23:31 AM EST
The DB-owned freight Ludmillas have been largely withdrawn from cross-border services after the electrification of the Montzen route, however, they continue on domestic runs. DB only disposes of those locos that are due for general inspections (since spring this year) -- then again, I believe their number now fell under 100. (Of course, the above only applies to the freight version, the class 234  passenger Ludmillas aren't affected by the recession.) There are some private operators with Ludmillas, I don't know what their plans are.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 7th, 2009 at 02:36:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<tiptoes quietly into engineer space> "...roughly 191.9"? Too rich for me... <tiptoes out again>

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 10:08:07 AM EST
You know Sven, in german exact is genau.  In most languages, exact is pretty, well, exact. Hard to get better.

But in german there's a standard phrase, ganz genau, which might translate to completely exact, for those for whom exact isn't exact enough.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 10:55:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 11:47:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On Friday (10 July), the first two GE PowerHaul locos, made for British operator Freightliner, were rolled out. Look at the anti-clmbing plates on their fronts:

(IMHO rather ugly, but at least less dirty.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 12th, 2009 at 11:57:32 AM EST
Notice the temporary wooden railings.
by jfbeaulieu on Mon Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:07:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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