Written byWilliam C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

AC44C6M 4463 on August 6, 2021 at the Wabtec plant in Fort Worth, Texas (Brandon Wade / AP Images for Wabtec)

Wabtec celebrated on August 6 the modernization of its 1,000th locomotive in North and South America with the delivery to Norfolk Southern (NS) of the AC44C6M 4463, a rebuilt 1998 vintage GE Dash-9.

Wabtec’s modernization program covers the replacement of control systems to transform DC traction units into AC units. The transformation of the 4463 into the AC44C6M – a joint effort of engineering teams from Wabtec and NS – involved a complete rebuild of the unit’s 7FDL igniter to EPA Tier 1 Plus emissions standards, upgrading the engine control system and installation of Trip Optimizer SmartHPT and LOCOTROL® eXpanded Architecture (XA) Distributed Power (DP).

Before and after preview of Norfolk Southern locomotives at the Wabtec Locomotive Plant on August 6, 2021 in Forth Worth, Texas. Wabtec celebrated its 1,000th locomotive modernization in North and South America. (Brandon Wade / AP Images for Wabtec)

Trip Optimizer SmartHPT “allows additional fuel savings by optimizing train performance for a given HPT (Horse Power Per Ton) target,” notes Wabtec. “It is EPA certified for 5% fuel and emissions savings. Auto idle identifies areas where the train has more power than needed and automatically idles the tail units in the front group, saving additional fuel. The Smart Planner option provides a railway with the ability to limit a train’s HPT by developing a limited power plan based on a customer-defined HPT limit for the train and route. The Network Control option automatically isolates the locomotives from the lead group using eMU / Interconsist routing. Isolated units will then follow their specific railway rules for closure. “

Wabtec describes LOCOTROL® XA as the “next generation DP platform”, offering benefits such as reduced DP communication losses and support for future applications such as Road RCL and digital messages on THE METEORCOMM® ITCM® (Interoperable Train Control Messaging®) network.

The modernized control console of the 4463. (Brandon Wade / AP Images for Wabtec)

ITCM®, part of the METEORCOMM® Interoperable Train Control network® (ITCnet®), is “an advanced, custom, middleware messaging system for the rail industry that supports seamless communication between multiple organizations across tens of thousands of remote endpoints,” the company notes. “It allows the back office and the railways to exchange messages regardless of their physical location or type of connectivity. It is currently used by Class I, short haul and commuter railways, system integrators, and positive train control (PTC) accommodation providers across the country. This system supports PTC by coupling state-of-the-art hardware with advanced software to enable highly reliable interoperable train control communication. “

(Brandon Wade / AP Images for Wabtec)

Reconstruction in AC44C6M gives “up to 25% improvement in energy efficiency; more than 40% increase in reliability; up to 55% increase in tractive effort; and up to 20% reduction in maintenance, repair and overhaul expenses, ”Wabtec reports. “The fuel efficiency benefits of these 1,000 locomotives have reduced carbon emissions by more than 1.4 million tonnes since 2015. This reduction is equivalent to removing emissions from 340,000 cars. “

Electronic positive control bay of the modernized 4463 train. (Brandon Wade / AP Images for Wabtec)

NS represents 500 of the 1,000 locomotives that Wabtec has modernized. Each rebuild of the NS fleet reduces more than 500 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, according to Wabtec.

The retrofit program also reduces emissions by reusing existing steel on the locomotive through a requalification and refurbishment process. “More than half of the critical components of a locomotive are reused, rebuilt or remanufactured at least three times during their useful life,” explains Wabtec. The company’s locomotive factories in Erie, Pennsylvania; Fort Worth, Texas; and Contagem in Brazil reused more than 100,000 tonnes of steel to modernize the 1,000 locomotives.

From left to right: Pascal Schweitzer, President of Wabtec Freight Services, and Tom Schnautz, Vice President of Forward Train Control for Norfolk Southern. (Brandon Wade / AP Images for Wabtec)
Pascal Schweitzer
(Brandon Wade / AP
Images for Wabtec)

“This achievement is a testament to the value that our locomotive modernization service offers to customers,” said Pascal Schweitzer, President of Wabtec Freight Services. “Our modernization program breathes new life and technological advancements into customers’ aging locomotives, while reducing a railroad’s operating costs and carbon footprint.

Tom schnautz
(Brandon Wade / AP
Images for Wabtec)

“Our partnership with Wabtec is one of the ways we plan to meet our target of 42% reduction in emissions intensity by 2034,” says Tom Schnautz, vice president of NS-Advanced Train Control . “The Wabtec program maximizes the value of our locomotives, reduces operating costs and reduces emissions. Schnautz said Age of the railway that the typical life expectancy of an NS locomotive is 25 years. The rebuilding program of these 20-year-old Dash-9s (there are 1,200 in the Nova Scotia fleet) gives them at least 10 more years of service and makes them the equivalent of a new locomotive. . “Dollar for dollar, compared to the acquisition of new units, the operating and cost savings are magnified,” he said.

In June, CSX joined forces with Wabtec to modernize the locomotives in its fleet.

Railway Age editor-in-chief Marybeth Luczak contributed to this story.

Categories: Class I, Freight, Locomotives, Mechanics, News, Short Lines & Regionals, Switching & Terminal
Keywords: Latest News, METEORCOMM®, Norfolk Southern, NS, Wabtec


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