CN places major power order with GE

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
GE Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive 2 Photo credit CN

CN will acquire 200 new locomotives over the next three years from GE Transportation—the General Electric division that CEO John Flannery recently said would be sold off because it is a business “that drains investment and management resources without the prospects for a substantial reward.”

CN said it ordered the ET44AC (spec sheet downloadable from the link below) locomotives “to accommodate future growth opportunities and drive operational efficiency across [our] system.”

GE Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive 2 Photo credit CNThe order is the largest by any Class I railroad since 2014. It includes Tier 4 and Tier 3 (Tier 4 certified) Evolution™ Series locomotives equipped with GE Transportation’s GoLINC™ Platform, Trip Optimizer™ System and Distributed Power LOCOTROL® eXpanded Architecture “to maximize train effectiveness and efficiency.” This technology is part of GE Transportation’s Train Performance product suite, which “optimizes power distribution, train handling, brake control and fuel utilization.”

The locomotives will be produced at the GE Manufacturing Solutions facility in Fort Worth, Tex., beginning in 2018. The first units are expected to be delivered in 2018, with the balance delivered in 2019 and 2020.

“We are bullish on the North American economy and on our ability to compete and win new business with our superior service model,” said CN President and CEO Luc Jobin. “In the years ahead, these GE Transportation locomotives and their digital technology will support and enhance our operational efficiency. We are proud to continue our partnership with GE Transportation and look forward to adding these units to our fleet as part of our commitment to operational and service excellence.”

“CN’s steadfast commitment to serving the expanding needs of its customers across Canada and the U.S. is helping to turn around the North American locomotive market,” said GE Transportation CEO Rafael Santana. “We are proud to partner with CN on this agreement to meet the needs of their future growth, and optimize and further digitize their freight rail operations.”

Editor’s Note: On Nov.13, when Flannery announced that GE would jettison its Transportation division, I called it “corporate Darwinism, where only the ‘strong’ have earned the right to survive. In GE Transportation’s case, the division isn’t strong enough for Flannery and the activist investors who have him dangling above a pot of boiling oil. And I don’t think top management has the savvy or experience or passion to deal with our industry’s often frustrating cyclicality involving locomotives and freight cars. That’s too bad, because GE Transportation has always been stocked with brilliant people who get things done. You want to be part of this industry? You have to be willing to work at it. To tough out the tough times. To roll with the cycles. To be focused on long-term value and growth, not short-term gains.” I wonder what Flannery is thinking now? Maybe GE Transportation isn’t as weak as he claims? — William C. Vantuono

Locomotive platform fabrication at the Fort Worth Plant Photo Credit GE



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