GE said this locomotive is part of its AC-power Evolution series, which provides finer traction control that yields big fuel and emissions reductions compared with DC-powered units.
While GE has marketed AC engines for more than a decade, its Evolution series is just a few years old and uses a 12-cylinder engine to get the same horsepower as the 16-cylinder power plants in previous AC models.
The latest unit, model ES44C4, trims more equipment by cutting the number of traction motors it uses over the axles to four instead of six, leaving one off the center axle. This is aimed directly at the sort of market that DC engines still hold, which one industry source described as a lighter terrain and train pull with fewer mountain grades.
But it saves even more fuel and emissions burn than the bigger models, so the idea is that railroads can intersperse this model with higher-capacity locomotives or target them for specific regions and train types.
GE has no other orders for this model at present, but has high hopes that carriers will see its advantages. “Six hundred of GE's latest locomotives can displace up to 800 older locomotives,” the supplier said, “translating to an annual reduction of more than 70 million gallons of fuel.”
It also touts this model as easier to maintain than DC locomotives it hopes to replace.
Chris Roberts, BNSF vice president of mechanical and value engineering, said “we are putting these locomotives through rigorous testing to determine the benefits of this new AC alternative, and the early results have been positive.”
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