• Union Pacific's ES44AC's - Have never seen on coal trains

  • 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 AC Fan
 
I live near the Union Pacific's former C&NW main line from Chicago to Omaha. For years I've seen AC4400's and SD9043MAC's on coal. However, I have never seen their new ES44AC's or SD70ACe's on coal, but instead, only on intermodal or "general" freights (often mixed in with DC motored SD70M's and Dash 9's). Given the AC traction motors on these new units, they would obviously be just as capable on heavy coal trains as anything - which leads me to believe that UP has simply been testing the "economics" of using this newest generation of AC-drive locomotives on "non-heavy haul" trains (in other words, to see what differences in operation/maintenance costs there are, if any, versus DC-drive locomotives in the same type of service). Perhaps UP is trying to see if these newest AC offerings can offset the higher initial purchase price (vs. DC drive units) with lower long-term operational/maintenance costs.

Anyone out there heard any confirmation or alternative explanation as to why no ES44AC's or SD70ACe's on Union Pacific coal trains? Thanks.
  by alasgw
 
AC Fan wrote:Anyone out there heard any confirmation or alternative explanation as to why no ES44AC's or SD70ACe's on Union Pacific coal trains? Thanks.
UP did not purchase these two types for coal service. While they offer the same horsepower as other AC locomotives purchased for coal these new units are also EPA Tier 2 compliant.

Where are they used and why?
The units are most often found on intermodal trains to the West Coast. They are supposed to be assigned to intermodal trains to Southern California as much as possible. Not only is the new power more reliable, and thus perfect for trains with demanding schedules, but UP is using the Tier 2 compliant units to build up emissions credits in Southern California before a Jan. 1, 2010 deadline that railroads in Southern California have to meet that is imposed by agencies in CA. On the deadline the RR's are to operate only Tier 2 equivalent locomotives in the region. The important word here is equivalent -- that means that by building up Tier 2 hours well in advance UP (and BNSF, etc.) has a safety cushion allowing it to operate older locomotives in the state that don't meet Tier 2. This is a complicated matter but simplistically looked at if UP has a surplus of 1000 Tier 2 hours built up by the deadline they could operate 1000 hours of non-Tier 2 locos after the deadline. It is much more complicated than that, but that's the general idea.