Wabtec Lands Orders from CN, Fortescue

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Wabtec on June 6 launched its new Precision Dispatch System with an order from CN. (Photograph Courtesy of Wabtec)

Wabtec on June 6 launched its new Precision Dispatch System with an order from CN. (Photograph Courtesy of Wabtec)

CN will roll out Wabtec’s new Precision Dispatch System, and mining company Fortescue Metals Group of western Australia will take delivery of Wabtec-modernized locomotives over the next two years.

Wabtec on June 6 reported that CN is the first railroad to order its latest Precision Dispatch System, which is designed for moving trains in both signaled and dark territory. The “command-and-control” system analyzes data coming from all rolling stock and wayside devices as well as Positive Train Control (PTC), and “provides advanced automation through end-to-end electronic delivery of mandatory directives and automatic implementation of authorities in dark territory,” according to the supplier.

After a phased rollout expected to wrap up in 2023, 37 desks in CN’s control center will use the new software.

“Our focus is running a safe and efficient railroad, and constantly improving our infrastructure,” CN Chief Information and Technology Officer Dominique Malenfant said. “The Precision Dispatch System represents an important step forward in our network optimization. This solution is designed to enable us to maximize the potential of our rail network and will protect the safety of employees.”

“CN will be able to increase capacity, [and] improve efficiency and safety across its more than 20,000-mile network,” said Nalin Jain, President of Wabtec’s Digital Electronics business.

Wabtec on June 5 announced it will modernize its first fleet of locomotives for an Australian customer with an order from Fortescue Metals Group. (Photograph Courtesy of Wabtec)

Meanwhile, Wabtec will convert 28 GE Dash-9s to AC44C6Ms at its Fort Worth, Tex., facility for Fortescue. The modernized locomotives will feature a UX engine, new electrical cabinets, a new-design high-efficiency radiator and radiator cab, an upgraded control system, and AC traction with individual axle control. They will also provide Fortescue up to a 55% increase in tractive effort and a more than 40% increase in reliability, according to Wabtec.

“This newly modernized fleet will enable substantial long-term capital and operating costs savings, provide the latest traction and control technology, and enable future upgrades to alternative energy sources such as battery-electric in support of Fortescue’s industry-leading target to be carbon neutral by 2030,” Fortescue General Manager Hedland Operations Mark Komene said.

“While we have completed more than 1,000 modernizations for customers globally, it’s a first for Australia and demonstrates Fortescue’s commitment to drive more sustainable rail operations,” said Wendy McMillan, Wabtec’s Senior Regional Vice President, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. “By repurposing and rebuilding our locomotives, we give these heavy-haul trains another 20 years of life, while reducing the fuel consumption and maintenance, and repair and overhaul expenses by up to 20%.”

In related developments, Norfolk Southern (NS) in March selected Wabtec to modernize 330 GE Dash 9-44CW units, bringing the manufacturer’s total number of power upgrades for NS to more than 950 upon completion of work in 2025. Additionally, BHP subsidiary Western Australia Iron Ore in January ordered two FLXdrive battery-electric units from Wabtec, with delivery planned for 2023; the manufacturer is also constructing four FLXdrives for Rio Tinto and one for Roy Hill in Australia, as well as one unit for CN for use on the Bessemer & Lake Erie portion of its network in Pennsylvania.

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