NS acquiring 100 of UP's EMD SD9043MAC locomotives

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Posted by NorthWest on Saturday, January 18, 2020 12:56 PM

Yeah.

Last I heard many of the SD70M-2s have been in storage for awhile. Rumor is they've had the same computer issues as the CN units, and haven't been maintained well in the coal fields.

I concur with your thoughts on Roanoke and Altoona. Hopefully they'll be able to find other positions quickly, though I have my doubts. NS is losing a big resource here, and the knowledge and people won't come back quickly or cheaply.

PSR, indeed...

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Saturday, January 18, 2020 1:07 PM

It seems that I read in this forum now and then that NS is not doing well.

Maybe this is why they are short on cash.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, January 18, 2020 1:28 PM

NorthWest

Last I heard many of the SD70M-2s have been in storage for awhile. Rumor is they've had the same computer issues as the CN units, and haven't been maintained well in the coal fields.

CN hasn't given up on the SD70M-2's.  From my operator's viewpoint they have received a number of upgrades over the years, including several software patches (some work well, some not so much) and backup electric starters.  They are also being equipped with PTC, unlike most of the Dash-8 fleet. 

As you have probably heard, there is a rumour floating around that CN has contracted Progress Rail to rebuild some SD75I's into SD70ACC's.  Along with a small order for 20 Tier-IV EMD units. 

NorthWest

I concur with your thoughts on Roanoke and Altoona. Hopefully they'll be able to find other positions quickly, though I have my doubts. NS is losing a big resource here, and the knowledge and people won't come back quickly or cheaply.

Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, January 18, 2020 2:02 PM

SD70Dude
Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.

They know exactly what they're doing.  They. Just. Don't. Care.

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Posted by NorthWest on Saturday, January 18, 2020 8:55 PM

SD70Dude
CN hasn't given up on the SD70M-2's. From my operator's viewpoint they have received a number of upgrades over the years, including several software patches (some work well, some not so much) and backup electric starters. They are also being equipped with PTC, unlike most of the Dash-8 fleet.

That's good to hear. The units were built during EMD's worst period, and apparently NS didn't treat theirs well. In absence of PSR, I wouldn't have been surprised to see an "SD70ACM" conversion but I'm guessing they'll be in storage for quite a while to come.

I'm not sure the CN Dash-8s are long for this world, particularly the cowls. I need to get back up to the Fraser River Canyon and shoot them again...

SD70Dude
As you have probably heard, there is a rumour floating around that CN has contracted Progress Rail to rebuild some SD75I's into SD70ACC's. Along with a small order for 20 Tier-IV EMD units.

I thought that the units in question were the ex-IC SD70s. They were all gathered up in service out of Chicago for awhile (with the exception of a few on the B&LE), but they've started to wander more as of late. I doubt they'll come west again though.

On a side note, it's become increasingly difficult to get UP SD70Ms on the West Coast. It used to be that you couldn't get away from them. Now, you're lucky if you get two in a consist. Times are changing...

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Sunday, January 19, 2020 6:29 AM

I believe some months ago the Newswire said that the Dash 8 cowls were next up for retirement.

Hoping to catch a few more when CNR acquires the St. Lawrence line. Their SD50M's, SD60M's, and the Dash 8 cowls were regulars here at one point before CNR run through power stopped being a regular thing on this line a decade or more ago.

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Posted by caldreamer on Sunday, January 19, 2020 8:40 AM

Perhaps Altoona can once again do upgrades, etc for other railroads.  That would save the jobs of some of the personnel.  NO One does it better than they do.  The Juniata shops have been around almost as long as the PRR dataing back to the 1800's.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Sunday, January 19, 2020 11:48 AM

Sadly, that doesn't seem to be happening.

AltoonaWorks or NSDash9 (I don't remember which) just reported a day or two back that the last outside contract for work at Altoona had been concluded. 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, January 19, 2020 11:28 PM

NorthWest
SD70Dude
As you have probably heard, there is a rumour floating around that CN has contracted Progress Rail to rebuild some SD75I's into SD70ACC's. Along with a small order for 20 Tier-IV EMD units.

I thought that the units in question were the ex-IC SD70s. They were all gathered up in service out of Chicago for awhile (with the exception of a few on the B&LE), but they've started to wander more as of late. I doubt they'll come west again though.

On a side note, it's become increasingly difficult to get UP SD70Ms on the West Coast. It used to be that you couldn't get away from them. Now, you're lucky if you get two in a consist. Times are changing...

The first version of the rumour said that it would be the IC SD70's getting rebuilt.  The second version said it would be SD75I's becoming SD75ACC's (a new model designation).  The third and current version is that 25 SD75I's are going to become SD70ACC's. 

But this, along with the SD70ACe-T4 order, is still just a rumour.  I haven't seen anything from a reliable source yet.  Canadian Railway Observations is spouting off about it on a regular basis, but their editor has a reputation for repeating gossip as fact.  And using copyrighted photos without permission. 

If you want to get shots of the Dash-8 cowls do it now.  Some have already been placed in storage, though they might get reactivated temporarily during the winter.  I think individual units were being pulled from service as they suffered major breakdowns, or came due for inspections.  I've yet to see one with PTC, so don't expect them to lead south of the border.

I'd like to believe the rumours about the EMD orders, there have been a lot of problems with the new GE units over the past year or two.  They have the usual computer bugs that you find in any new system, but there is a lot of silly stuff too, like air lines and control switches breaking off when you touch them. 

I think GE ramped up production at the Texas plant too fast.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by NorthWest on Monday, January 20, 2020 2:09 PM

Thanks for the info.

I'm really starting to miss the locomotives of 2015...Tongue Tied

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Posted by NorthWest on Thursday, February 6, 2020 9:26 AM

And now NS Dash 9/ Chris Toth is reporting that the entire NS SD70M and SD70M-2 fleet is now for sale. Wow.

The last of the Dash-8s have now been sold but that's not a surprise.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 6, 2020 10:36 AM

SD70Dude
The first version of the rumour said that it would be the IC SD70's getting rebuilt.

Incidentally, a pair of IC SD70s (I believe 1018 and 1010) has become a little prominent around here last week -- I saw a pair both on the ex-Southern, west of Highland St, and leading a train north out of the ex-IC yard leading to that east-side freight bypass mentioned in the horn thread.  One of them (I believe 1010) retains its Illinois Central nose herald (the other is patched there to a CN noodle but otherwise still in IC scheme).

Not sure how these survive this way, but it's sure fun to see them running!

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Thursday, February 6, 2020 11:26 AM

3 of the 4 remaining NS-purchased SD70's and the seven 2nd hand SD75M's are the only DC-motored SD70 variants not yet on the sale list. I'm sure those will show up soon enough.

I wonder if CNR will take a look at the M-2 fleet as replacements for the bulk of their Dash 8's. 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, February 7, 2020 7:21 AM

I would surmise that Class 1 railroads, given their running of more longer trains with single units or single head end-single dpu, necessitating more lower speed lugging up long grades, would be most interested in any 4,300 HP or 4,400 HP units that either are AC or can be converted to AC.

But if the price is right and they are in decent shape, who knows?

It would seem a Genessee & Wyoming or Watco might pick up a select number of DC units for some of their short lines, such as the SD70M-2 units running on the B&P operation. In select circumstances they might be able to use the larger units economically. 

 

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, February 7, 2020 8:44 AM

The radial trucks may be a bonus on the short lines as well

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Posted by longhorn1969 on Friday, February 7, 2020 10:27 AM

NorthWest

And now NS Dash 9/ Chris Toth is reporting that the entire NS SD70M and SD70M-2 fleet is now for sale. Wow.

The last of the Dash-8s have now been sold but that's not a surprise.

 

 

Other than Precision Railroading what would be the reason for sidelining relatively new locomotives?

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 7, 2020 10:55 AM

longhorn1969
Other than Precision Railroading what would be the reason for sidelining relatively new locomotives?

First, reducing the number of locomotives still using DC drive; second, reducing numbers of units with older inverters or drive components that are not as efficient (or easily maintained) as newer ones.

(There may also be PTC-related concerns here, even at this relatively late date, as the equipment on each given locomotive is expensive to acquire and install.)

(I made a joke on another thread about how certain "PSR-related tendencies" may be attractive to modern 'activist investors' -- reducing the stranded capital of underused locomotives, especially by selling for cash equivalent, may be an attractive short-term action...  there may be some truth in it, though...)

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Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, February 7, 2020 11:56 AM

Overmod, as a financial guy, that is an excellent point. Trying to turn unneeded assets into some amount of cash hopefully in excess of scrap value is probably what they are working on.

Plus one supposes they are also looking for the efficiency savings of eliminating smaller classes of power to maintain, train people to maintain, stock spare parts for, etc.

One byproduct of "almost-universal-PSR" on the North American continent is also the likely-permanent downsizing of the new locomotive market. Not only from having a massive "feedstock" for rebuilding from these various moth-balled fleets, but also in the long term moving more cars with less locomotives.

 

 

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 8, 2020 1:52 PM

kgbw49
Overmod, as a financial guy, that is an excellent point. Trying to turn unneeded assets into some amount of cash hopefully in excess of scrap value is probably what they are working on.

I would say "unwanted" as opposed to "unneeded".

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, February 8, 2020 3:36 PM

This may somewhat redeemn unwise purchase by UP but whether a declining NS can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is a whole 'nother kettle o' fish.  "Beggars can't..."

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 8, 2020 3:56 PM

kgbw49
Not only from having a massive "feedstock" for rebuilding from these various moth-balled fleets, but also in the long term moving more cars with less locomotives.

"more cars". Yeah, they can keep telling themselves that.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 8, 2020 4:10 PM

charlie hebdo
whether a declining NS can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is a whole 'nother kettle o' fish. 

Wasn't that much wrong with the "9043MACs" that couldn't be judiciously fixed.  Remember that these never had the 265H or experienced the troubles with 6000hp -- admittedly these locomotives are larger by comparison with other built-to-4400hp engines, but not impossibly so.

The frame weakness was relatively easy to fix; in fact I was sad I didn't have a couple of loose million to buy these up at around $150K a copy (as you could do when the common-mode frame failures became perceived as widespread), perform much the same kind of 'fixes' as subsequently done, and have good marketable power ready for the dawn of the Tier 4 final fiasco...

I don't believe the current issue is about retiring the converted 9043s, just about the economics of converting more at a time the PSR-influenced railroads are contracting the number of locomotives officially rostered...

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 8, 2020 4:15 PM

They did turn those 9043s into 70ACUs.  They seem to run fine.  Although half are now in storage.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Sunday, February 9, 2020 9:59 AM

Many didn't get engine overhauls during their ACU rebuilding. So I suspect saving on a needed engine rebuild is part of the reason that many of the ACU's are parked.

That said, of the 29 units that currently meet Tier 1+ at the NSDash9 roster page (Which also indicates an engine overhaul), 13 of those are listed as stored. So there would seem to be more in play there than just engine condition. 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, February 9, 2020 3:49 PM

Perhaps if CP is satisfied with their SD70ACUs, maybe they will become the home for the majority of the whole fleet. They hung on to their SD9043MACs for quite a while so it would not be unprecedented for them to acquire some for future updating and rebuilding. If the capital costs are significantly lower than a new-buy Tier 4, the fuel economy significantly better than a new-buy Tier 4, and the ROIC meets their hurdle rate, it might be a good way to go for a railroad the size of CP.

Time will tell of course - there are a zillion different "what-if" scenarios that can be played out given the huge number of locomotives being mothballed that are good candidates for rebuilding.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, February 10, 2020 10:53 PM

NSDash9 is now reporting that the SD75M's are for sale (As are the Dash 8.5's).

For the DC motored SD70 family at NS, that leaves just three SD70's that aren't on the sale list and apparently SD70M 2595 which serves at the AAR Transportation Technology Center.

I assume those last three SD70's will be joining in the coming weeks.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 11:22 AM

It sounds like any future SD70ACC conversions will be done by Progress Rail for other railroads.

They seem to be another solid solution for rebuilds pioneered by Norfolk Southern that may redound to the long term benefit of other railroads.

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Posted by longhorn1969 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 9:08 PM

Why does NS still have Geeps and High hood ones at that on the property?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:00 AM

longhorn1969

Why does NS still have Geeps and High hood ones at that on the property?

 
Most of them are GP38-2's and perform local freight and switching duties.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by longhorn1969 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 12:09 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

 

 

longhorn1969

Why does NS still have Geeps and High hood ones at that on the property?

 

 

 

 
Most of them are GP38-2's and perform local freight and switching duties.
 

 

 Thanks, with NS selling the newer SD70Ms, would it not make sense to keep the newer units for that purpose and fully retire the older era locomotives?

Just strange, very strange.

 

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