• Older GE vs. older EMD pulling contest

  • Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.
Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.

Moderators: AMTK84, MEC407

  by Allen Hazen
The employee comments you report...
The complaints about GE control stands rattling are (to this GE fan) disheartening: I'd like to think of my favorite locomotive builder as paying attention to all the details! But there does seem to be some consistency in reported operator's testimony that the cab environment on (at least older) GE locomotives was in various ways less pleasant than that on EMDs.
On the performance issue, the BNSF employees you talked to had probably never been on an AC-motored GE. BN was the launch customer (in 1993) for the SD70MAC, and BNSF has a large fleet that they use on coal trains. ATSF was an early customer for the (DC-motored) C44-9W, and BNSF has built up a huge fleetwhich, I think, they try to use on everything BUT coal trains. But BNSF didn't buy AC-motored GE units (AC44CW and now ES44AC) in quantity until very recently: 2004, I think. So BNSF locomotive crews before that would have been able to compare only DC-motored GEs to AC and DC motored EMDs. And for coal drags, either builder's ACs are better than either builder's DCs!

  by Jay Potter
When someone who is familiar with various types of locomotives tells me that one type is superior to another comparable type, my response is to be firmly convinced that the person who told me that has a genuine belief that the first type really is superior to the second type. But I don't draw any conclusions beyond that.

On the segment of CSXT with which I'm most familiar, the company has been operating various versions of SD70MAC and various versions of AC4400CW for the past nine years. Some crew members prefer the EMDs and some prefer the GEs. I expect that they will reach an agreement as to which is really better about the time that the driving public reaches an agreement that Fords are superior to Chevrolets, or the other way around.

  by trainiac
Unfortunately, recent reports seem to indicate that the SD70ACe does not perform as well as the SD70MAC did. On the other hand, folks are also saying that the ES44AC performs better than the AC4400.
There are so many conflicting reports that I think it would be wise to wait a few years before judging either of the builder's new locomotives. To flip the coin, KCS's reason for purchasing SD70ACe's was that they could "pull 9.6 percent more 110-ton coal cars than any of the locomotives currently in KCSR's fleet" according to press releases. That puts them ahead of the AC4400CW, which also means ahead of the SD70MAC...

byte wrote:Am I the only one to think that this would never work due to the coupler knuckles breaking? :-)
Yes, you are the only one thinking this !!! :-D If trains weighing in excess of 18,000 tons are run everyday, across the country, why would you imagine a couple of 200 ton locos would "break the knuckle couplers"? The wheels might slip, but more than likely the loco that loads up first, will drag the other one backwards. As soon as one loco moves in the opposite direction of it's reverser handle position, the loco drops it's load, sands the rail, and will attempt to pull again. due to the increase of speed, in the wrong direction though, it will never effectively load, thefore "losing the battle", as soon as it has been started. Regards :-D

  by WebInfo
Tadman wrote:A few years back, I took SW Chief Chi-Lawrence, KS. I had two deadhead BNSF employees, and I asked them a similar question: given egual locomotives, what would you prefer? The answer was GE's aren't screwed together as well, IE control stands rattle too much. In terms of power, the difference is negligable on an intermodal, but on a coal drag, they'd want nothing other than an SD70MAC. They were pretty firm on that judgement too, saying nothing will pull like a big MAC on a coaler.
That's funny, because on CSX it's just the opposite. The SD70MACs aren't screwed together very well, and have way more road failures than the AC4400's. Pulling power=no contest. The AC4400's are way better than the 70MACS on a hard pull. In fact, CSX pulled most of the 70MACs off of coal trains due to their poor pulling power and high break downs.

  by XBNSFer
I'd echo the comment above; the employees in question were probably comparing AC locomotives (SD70MACs) to DC locomotives (C44-9Ws); I heard a similar comment (when I worked for BNSF) from an engineer that got a (rare, for the pacific northwest) coal train with SD70MACs on it, talking about how they had better dynamic brakes than any "Pumkin" (slang for the then-new "Heritage I" C44-9Ws); my instant thought was how this was an "apples to oranges" comparison, i.e., if the comparison was between an SD70MAC and an AC4400CW, the GE would come out on top. A friend of mine works for BNSF in Montana, and even he begrudgingly admits that the SD70MACs haven't "held up well" as they age.
  by ryzeroket
I am an engineer on the UP and work on a line that almost exclusively runs coal trains in DPU configuration. Most of us who work on this line seem to prefer the GE AC locos as compared to the sd90 macs that we get. The sd90macs take forever to load, this is especially annoying when you are trying to tie on to a train. As far as pulling, they are probably about equal. The GE's rattle quite a bit more, but they are both equally rough under full throttle. I am aware of several instances of computer malfunction on the GE computer system when the temperature gets into the 90's. I have not run into that same problem with the emd's. However when we link up DPU locomotives the EMDS are not user friendly. They are tough to get linked. I hate having an EMD in the lead of my consist for this reason. I would rather have it as a pusher. The GE's on the other hand are a bit easier to link up. I run on a main line that lets us run 50mph on loads and 60mph on empties so we get a chance to experience them in full throttle quite often. The GE's are hands down my favorites.