Friday, March 23, 2012

CN to acquire 161 locomotives

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CN Thursday said it plans to acquire 65 new high-horsepower locomotives, augmenting that purchase with one of 96 second-hand high-horsepower locomotives that will be upgraded, or 161 locomotives in all.

CN is splitting the new locomotive order in two, with GE Transportation delivering 35 new ES44AC 4,400 hp locomotives during 2013 and 2014, while Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) will supply 30 new 4,300 hp SD70ACe locomotives. The new locomotives will be equipped with General Electirc distributed power technology. CN expects 50% of its high-horsepower locomotive fleet will have distributed power by the end of 2013.

Keith Creel, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "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," Creel said.

Creel noted CN's "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 speedsin 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," Creel said.

CN is turning to the two suppliers for its secondhand purchases as well, with plans to secure 42 second-hand GE Dash 8-40C locomotives and 11 leased GE Dash 8-40C locomotives, both offering 4,000 hp, and 43 second-hand EMD SD60, 3,800 hp locomotives. The direct-current technology locomotives will be upgraded to CN specifications.