The SD70ACe-T4 – A Super Bad Omen? (w/ Photos) Is Siemens the Freight Power of the Future?

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The SD70ACe-T4 – A Super Bad Omen? (w/ Photos) Is Siemens the Freight Power of the Future?
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Sunday, December 31, 2017 11:16 PM

This forum contributor saw the rather unbelievable on Friday, December 29, 2017.  At Mojave, CA, UP 3027 (a new SD70ACe-T4) led a small cement train into town from a branch!

It is understood the new units are mainly operating on the Powder River Basin trains, but some are roving the system.  But, a 10 mile branch line?  The earlier SD70ACe’s were often regulated to locals for a long time.  Now they are system wide.

CAT may have bitten off more than it can chew.  The commuter F125 seems to be a nightmare.

So, new CAT power of any type are very limited, and having delays.  And, GE seems to want to exit.  Is Siemen’s the power of the future?

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, December 31, 2017 11:38 PM

Class I's often use big power on locals simply because it is there, and may be the only power available.  Gotta sweat those assets.  Seeing new high-HP units switching is no cause for concern.

What I find more telling is that Canadian National has been quietly testing two SD70ACe-T4 demonstrators in Western Canada for the past month, and the only thing to come of that is the big 200-unit GE order.  Seems CN management is not impressed with the EMDs.

The crews seem to like them though, I haven't been on one yet but everyone who has says they are great to run.

As for the F125's, CAT has been trying to crack the railroad market for 30 years and every one of their attempts has met with failure.  Their diesel engines, for whatever reason, just don't do well in the railroad environment.

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Monday, January 01, 2018 1:18 AM

Well then in regards to the Metrolink F125, CAT better admit the tier 4 diesel engine needs to be redesigned   or they're going to be in a heap of trouble regarding the F125 model.

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 01, 2018 3:48 AM

ATSFGuy
Well then in regards to the Metrolink F125, CAT better admit the tier 4 diesel engine needs to be redesigned   or they're going to be in a heap of trouble regarding the F125 model.

We had the F125's problems as topic in another thread: 
http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/741/t/266321.aspx

According to minutes of Metrolink meetings the problems lay in the DEF transport from tank to day tank. It had nothing to do with the C175-20.
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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, January 01, 2018 9:12 AM

Might the biggest hurdle for new orders be the large numbers of units formerly assigned to coal loads that are now available for other work with the natural gas revolution in the electric industry?

Look at the numbers of Grinstein Green SD70MACs, for instance, that with some investment probably will be good for another 20 years. Or what Norfolk Southern is doing with their DC to AC conversions, the SD70ACu conversions, etc.

Canadian National and Canadian Pacific both went through years of downsizing their fleets under Precision Scheduled Railroading, including putting some "relatively" new (i.e. significant useful life left in them) units on the storage tracks.

Now CSX is going through the same process.

UP has all those units in storage on the former main line in Arizona and at other locations around the system.

There are some very significant surge fleets in storage all across the country.

At the same time, it would not be beneficial in the long run for the railroads to lose one of their suppliers of new motive power, so one has to think that there may be some moderate orders over the next several years to keep them in business.

That would not be a "gift" by the railroads but a defensive position, for the same reason that most of the larger airlines - not all but most - have both Boeing and Airbus units in their fleet inventories.

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Posted by rdamon on Monday, January 01, 2018 12:40 PM

GE is trying to sell its locomotive division. A end of year fire sale to have some orders on the books would sweeten the deal for a potential buyer.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, January 01, 2018 12:48 PM

If I recall correctly, the 200 unit GE order is going to be spread over three years for the deliveries.

It will be interesting to see if one of CN's "US railroad" legal entities - Grand Trunk Western, Illinois Central, Wisconsin Central - is the one that actually purchases the units so that they can take advantage of the provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that allows for immediate expensing of capital investments for Federal Tax calculations.

 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, January 01, 2018 8:35 PM

kgbw49

If I recall correctly, the 200 unit GE order is going to be spread over three years for the deliveries.

That is correct.  The first units are to be delivered in Q3 2018.

kgbw49

It will be interesting to see if one of CN's "US railroad" legal entities - Grand Trunk Western, Illinois Central, Wisconsin Central - is the one that actually purchases the units so that they can take advantage of the provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that allows for immediate expensing of capital investments for Federal Tax calculations.

That has already been happening for over 15 years, the last batch of Dash-9's were delivered in CN paint but with IC numbers (2698 to 2721 if memory serves).  The blue cards of many ES and ET44AC's list the owner as WC, IC or GTW, even though they are all painted and numbered for CN.

No idea what the exact reason for each ownership "change" has been, but it must be something the accountants came up with 

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 12:06 AM

Ugh, the presumptive nature of the initial post is kinda surprising. First of all, since when are the SD70 T4s operating out of Powder River? If that is true is would be a MAJOR change in the power assignments. UP has been assigning most Tier 4 units to maintenance out of Hinkle and they operate the I5 Corridor. This is because of the Agreement with CARB. They want their best Emissions units in California.

 

As for that local, It was probably the power on hand. and West Colton didn't need to send it back north yet. Like I said, the GE and EMD Tier 4s tend to dominate between West Colton and Hinkle. Not that they don't go elsewhere, but that's where UP tends to congregate them. 

On the 29th, I saw what was probably the San Jose Turn operating with an SD59MX, an SD70M and a ES45ACCTE. That train NEVER rates GEs. It is held down by 59MX/60M/70M. But one of the pretty Tier 3 GEs was running behind the 2 EMDs. Why? is it an ominous sign for GE? NO, OF COURSE NOT. It was the power the power desk had to give that train.

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Posted by Entropy on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 2:26 PM

ATSFGuy

Well then in regards to the Metrolink F125, CAT better admit the tier 4 diesel engine needs to be redesigned   or they're going to be in a heap of trouble regarding the F125 model.

 

Redesigned because?

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 5:00 PM

YoHo1975 (1-2):

It has been rather general knowledge that the SD70ACe-T4’s are in coal train service, and is supported by photo sites.  Some have been photographed in various other locations, however, including non-UP trackage such as in Florida, New York, etc.

K.P.’s office overlooks from a distance the I-5 Corridor line, specifically, UP’s Mojave Sub in the High Desert of Southern California.  I have yet to see an SD70ACe-T4 from the window.  One was in Cajon Pass, UP 3012.

That UP 3012 floated around out of West Colton Yard in the Colton, CA area for some time, then I saw a photo of it in the Powder River Basin, which is consistent with the general understanding they are in coal service.

K.P.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 5:30 PM
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Posted by YoHo1975 on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 5:48 PM

I live in Roseville, There are fewer SD70ACe-T4s than there are GEVO-T4s and I5 trains don't always stop for service in Roseville, but we do see them regularly coming down from Redding. 

The statement that the bulk of T4s are running out of Hinkle is generally true. That doesn't mean they won't wander the system. Certainly the pictures of them on the Yuma Subdivision implies that West Colton Dispatched them a different direction. I don't know if the T4s are Captive service...or maybe only some of them are. The way some GEVOs are captive service as helpers over "the hill."

 

What does General knowledge mean in this case? I don't recall seeing such news on Loconotes for instance, though I may have missed it.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 7:09 PM

Yoho1975, it does make total sense that the bulk of SD70ACe-T4 units are being used in the I5 corridor. I did not post the picture links to agree or disagree with anyone. With a total of, I believe, 100 on the UP roster right now, it is certainly possible and logical that the lion's share of them operate in and out of CA, for sure, for the reasons you mentioned. And it also makes sense that some of the units are being put through their paces in other service by UP so they can ascertain whether or not those units are as reliable as the original 1,000+ SD70Ms that UP ordered 15-17 odd years ago, and whether or not they are worth another order. I am guessing that both you and K.P. are right to some degree.

It is interesting to see those units being used very often in lead positions, probably to get crew input as to how they like them in the various uses.

All of us are probably keeping our fingers crossed that the SD70ACe-T4 does pass all of its "tests" with flying colors and becomes a viable, effective option for all North American railroads over time. Time will certainly tell!

 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 11:16 AM

YoHo1975 (1-2):

The “general knowledge” idea came from the heavy coal train photos that have been at some photo sites.  Perhaps the SD70ACe-T4’s are getting around more now, and that will be reflected at those photo sites soon, if not already.

kgbw49 (1-2):

The website rrpicturearchives.net suggests under 60 have been delivered after all this time, AS IF some bugs have been encountered.

http://rrpicturearchives.net/locoList.aspx?mid=1536

Bugs have plagued the delivery of Metrolink’s F125 deliveries, SCAX Nos. 903-942.

http://rrpicturearchives.net/locoList.aspx?mid=848&Page=2

K.P.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 3:45 PM

UP had stopped delivery and restarted it last spring as has been reported. There is no longer anything delaying delivery that I'm aware of. They are also building T4C units so it's only 100 T4s, but I think an equal number of SD70ACe T3s.

 

Pictures on the internet are not sufficient data, because there isn't an equal number of photographers in each area. 

 

 

Example, 3012 has 20 pictures, but a large portion of those pictures are of it on the Southbound Coast Starlight. So yeah, it was in Coal service later in the year, but It was in Eugene to lead that Coast Starlight, because I5 Corridor. 

 

Going through the pictures it feels a lot more like they're working their way west and it may very well be that UP is going to try them out in a lot of different work, or local power desks bogart them cause NEW. Also a lot of Roster shots in Mx and Muncie and then in Proviso which is the first stop after Muncie. 

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Posted by caldreamer on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 5:04 PM

It seems that ALL new locomotive models seem to have various teething problems. They do get fixed as they come up.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Thursday, January 04, 2018 1:44 PM
Yeah, the Roseville Shop has had it's share of issues with the GE's as well.
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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Friday, January 19, 2018 4:33 PM

When I was in Arizona last Monday, January 15, 2018, for the “Sunset Route Two-Tracking Updates” thread, a westbound went by in Picacho with a tail end DPU SD70ACe-T4, UP 3021.

So, it seems they are getting around system wide now more and more, and being utilized in a number of services.

That above photo appears oddly composed, but there is a reason for it that will be explained in the Sunset Route thread tomorrow.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, February 12, 2018 12:58 PM

Was by the commuter agency Metrolink's South Perris end-of-the line layover terminal in Perris, CA on Saturday, February 10, 2018 and NO new Progress Rail F125’s were present, presumable meaning the problems with the new units still persists.

Also, thedieselshop.us webpages for the UP roster info and rrpicturearchives.net still shows the 100 SD70ACe-T4’s as NOT delivered into the 3060’s and beyond, so like the F125’s the SD70ACe-T4 problems must linger on.

http://thedieselshop.us/UP.HTML

http://rrpicturearchives.net/locoList.aspx?mid=1536

How many years will the order for 100 UP units take to be delivered?  For the 40 Metrolink units?

To cover all the bases, it has to be wondered if UP has contacted Siemens for any freight power proposals … Now wouldn’t that shake up the freight power industry in magnitude 8.0 earthquake fashion?

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Posted by azrail on Monday, February 12, 2018 1:52 PM

The Euros have never understood the US freight locomotive business - equipment that runs 24/7/365. E.G. Krause-Maffei

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, February 12, 2018 2:34 PM

I cannot rationalize that UP roster list versus the loconotes list of delivered units. Therefore I assume it is wrong and I wouldn't trust it. For example, the Builder dates are nonsensical and they don't give a delivery date. Similarly, a lot of those units that rrpicturearchives has are not considered delivered to UP yet. I recommend ignoring such websites and sticking with Loconotes. If there is a definitive source, that's it. For example, 3018, 3019, and 3026 were just delivered. and SD70ACe-T4C 9090 was delivered in January. Which isn't listed even though that site was updated in February. I'd dump that site as a source.

Muncie just started to Ramp up T4 production, they were building T4C units. So I would imagine things will continue apace. 

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 2:19 PM

YoHo1975 (2-12):

The thedieselshop.us UP roster is a loose one that is free.  I don’t have the will or the money to subscribe to every facet of railroading websites.  It sounds like the loconotes website (of unknown extension) is accurate, but I’m not sure how it could be in light of the process you described, which process suggests the outfit doesn’t need contributors, which in turn suggests a contradictory situation …Maybe more information is needed to clear up the confusion.

It is understandable that Progress Rail would now do manufacturing in the U.S., at Muncie, but given the ever extending time to complete the orders for F125’s and SD70ACe-T4’s, one has to wonder if Progress Rail tried some things that didn’t work as expected and those things now are dilemmas for them.  Of course, it is a good time, I suppose, for Progress Rail to unscramble nightmare problems because the industry is not too interested anyway in new power with all the power in storage among railroads.  Should be interesting to see what finally happens in the months to come.

K.P.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:20 PM
Loconotes is free. It used to be a Yahoo group, but they've recently moved to groups.io https://groups.io/g/loconotes/topics If you ever read Railfan and Railroad, their Roster info comes from loconotes. The T4 units were being built in Mexico, because Muncie was set up for SD70ACe-T4C production. I'm unsure if Mexico had excess production issues, but I do know that Muncie couldn't be building T4C units if they weren't going to build a duplicate number of T4 units.
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, February 15, 2018 10:29 PM

Siemens will  have to build a 6 axle version of its charger.  That would be the only way to get the weight on track per loco 4400 HP to take full advantage of all that tractive effort.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, February 16, 2018 7:12 AM

A six-axle North American freight version of the Charger would be breaking new ground for Siemens as their freight locomotive designs have been oriented to smaller European freight trains.

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Posted by owlsroost on Friday, February 16, 2018 7:58 AM
Don't forget that Siemens was a partner to EMD for AC-drive traction equipment in the SD60MAC/SD70MAC/SD80MAC era, so I suspect they know more about the North American heavy-haul freight locomotive market than you might think...
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Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 16, 2018 8:41 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
A six-axle North American freight version of the Charger would be breaking new ground for Siemens

I'm not sure why a monocoque design would be necessary (or particularly appropriate) for the freight market in North America.  I'd expect either a revised version of CECX 1919 (for the Cummins QSK powerplant family) or something along the lines of the 'testbed' applications of parts of the Charger structure to hood units.  One of the main issues remains the desirability (or lack of same) in using excess DEF to permit the prime movers to operate at higher efficiency and still meet Tier 4 final and later standards.

Three-axle trucks: you really don't have to look beyond 'Flexi-Float' to figure out what Siemens could do for a locomotive in any North American freight speed range.  (Or, really, any prospective high-speed freight operation in a passenger corridor, were a good business model for one demonstrated).  And I don't see a reason why modern Siemens three-axle trucks couldn't be integrated under a monocoque structure, with only nominal extension of the structure as currently made (there appears to be considerable overhang with long truck wheelbase in the passenger versions) for what might need to be larger fuel tanks.

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Posted by Entropy on Friday, February 16, 2018 10:01 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

A six-axle North American freight version of the Charger would be breaking new ground for Siemens as their freight locomotive designs have been oriented to smaller European freight trains.

 

Considering the charger has a design limitation that only allows limited dynamic brake capacity as is, would that be a good idea?

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, February 16, 2018 10:35 AM

Overmod
I'm not sure why a monocoque design would be necessary (or particularly appropriate) for the freight market in North America.  I'd expect either a revised version of CECX 1919 (for the Cummins QSK powerplant family) or something along the lines of the 'testbed' applications of parts of the Charger structure to hood units.  One of the main issues remains the desirability (or lack of same) in using excess DEF to permit the prime movers to operate at higher efficiency and still meet Tier 4 final and later standards.

A monocoque or in the case of the Charger a semi-monocoque design is chosen to save weight, about 20,000 lbs per unit but cost more to build.

A standard freight locomotive is ballasted to the allowed axle loads. It doesn't make sense to save weight in the construction and add as ballast.

We haven't seen any long time experiences with EGR in the GE ET44AC or EMD SD70ACe-T4 yet, so perhaps the railroads might perhaps reconcider.

On the other hand EPA will release a Tier 5 sometime and it wiil require the use of SCR.

In the final rule regarding the emission limits is discussed that locomotives would need SCR to comply to Tier 4. The manufacturers found a way around SCR.

From that perspective I'm not sure if it was a wise decision in the long term to go for solely EGR

 

Overmod
And I don't see a reason why modern Siemens three-axle trucks couldn't be integrated under a monocoque structure,

As long as you get a semi-monocoque design within the axle load limits with two-axle trucks there is no need for three-axle trucks.

The European experience is that two-axle trucks track better than three-axle trucks at higher speeds therefore the use of B-trucks.

What I read about three-axle radial (steerable) trucks, the expierence is mixed so that in many cases the steering mechanism was disabled.
Regards, Volker

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