Chicago’s Metra has awarded a $70.9 million contract to Progress Rail for 15 remanufactured and repurposed diesel-electric locomotives to modernize its ageing fleet. The contract includes options for up to 27 additional units, which will be purchased if funding becomes available.
The program involves rebuilding six-axle AC-traction Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) SD70MAC freight locomotives, 1,109 of which were built by EMD between 1993 and 2004. Metra says all components will be refurbished, upgraded or replaced, and the locomotives will be modified for passenger operation. The remanufactured units will be designated SD70MACH.
In 2018, Metra acquired 24 FP59PHI passenger locomotives from Amtrak California at a price of $1.3 million each, which reduced the percentage of its 147-unit fleet in “marginal or poor condition” from around 70% to around 45%. The arrival of the SD70MACH fleet expected to reduce the figure to 14% by 2023.
Modernization of the locomotive fleet will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as the SD70MACH will comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 3 emissions standards. Replacing 42 Tier 0+ locomotives with Tier 3 units is expected to reduce NOX (oxides of nitrogen) emissions by 55 tons per year.
Under a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in April 2017, Metra sought offers for new or remanufactured locomotives and subsequently opted for the latter option as it allowed the purchase of more locomotives than the new-build option.
“Our goals with this locomotive purchase are to increase reliability and improve the state of good repair on our system,” says Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “These like-new locomotives will be replacing some of the oldest locomotives in our fleet, and we would expect to see a significant increase in reliability as these newer locomotives are introduced.”
Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono contributed to this story.