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BNSF Use of SD70s on Coal Trains

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BNSF Use of SD70s on Coal Trains
Posted by PJS1 on Friday, September 16, 2022 9:26 PM

At my favorite train watch spot in Temple, TX, I see numerous BNSF freight trains. With the exception of the coal trains, all of them are powered by GE locomotives.  But the coal trains have at least two and sometimes four SD70 locomotives.

What is it about the SD70 that makes it a preferred locomotive for coal trains?  

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, September 16, 2022 9:42 PM

PJS1
At my favorite train watch spot in Temple, TX, I see numerous BNSF freight trains. With the exception of the coal trains, all of them are powered by GE locomotives.  But the coals trains have at least two and sometimes four SD70 locomotives.

What is it about the SD70 that makes it a preferred locomotive for coal trains?  

First off - I don't know!

My guess is the since the majority of BNSF coal originates out of the Powder River area, I would guess it would make sense to use the EMD fleet in this service as keeps the 'minority' share of the BNSF fleet near a service facility serving the Powder River area.  Isn't Alliance, Nebraska a big BNSF locomotive service facility?

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, September 16, 2022 10:02 PM

There was a thread awhile back talking about the orders and deliveries for BN prior to the merger. (This may not be hot)

https://cs.trains.com/trn/f/741/t/291941.aspx

Balt is probably right as these were bought by BN for coal service so they are more concentrated there. 

 

 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, September 17, 2022 12:00 AM

Funny thing was back in the 1970's, it was really rare to see anything but a U28C on a BN coal train, though I did see an NP coal train hauled by F's.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, September 17, 2022 2:40 AM

BNSF purchases of new GE locomotives for the last decade or so were ES44C4 units - only four traction motors powering four of the six axles with idler axles in the middle of each truck. They have starting tractive effort of 144,000 lbs and continuous tractive effort of 105,000 lbs.

That was sufficient tractive effort for BNSF merchandize and intermodal trains. Even BNSF Tier 4 ET44C4 locomotives have just four traction motors.

SD70MAC and SD70ACe locomotives have six powered axles on each locomotive so probably work better for heavy-haul coal service. They have 191,000 lbs of starting tractive effort and 157,000 lbs of continuous tractive effort.

If I understand correctly - read it in Trains a long time ago - GE could more easily drop to four powered axles because their locomotive design has one inverter per axle, whereas EMD locomotive design has one inverter per truck.

In some respects that makes sense because back in steam days, in the modern steam era, Santa Fe, CB&Q and Frisco had little need of articulated locomotives on their lines, so ES44C4 locomotives apparently work just fine for BNSF on the vast majority of their system.

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, September 17, 2022 9:56 AM

kgbw49

Your explanation makes sense.  Thanks.

Yesterday, I saw a north bound coal train with 121 empties.  It had two SD70s on the frontend and one paired with a Dash 9 on the backend.  

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Sunday, September 18, 2022 12:15 PM
 

While the 70MAC's do see service outside of coal. Thay are typically assigned to coal for probably a few reason. One due to them being based out of Alliance, NE I imagine which is just east of the PRB. The other that's what they were purchased for and perform best in coal service.

 
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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, September 19, 2022 4:45 PM

I believe Alliance is the Big EMD facility. 

For the MACs BN started buying them over the AC4400. Had a hand in their creation so I think that's part of why BNSF stuck with EMD for AC GE for DC for some time before moving to GE for AC as well.

 

I feel like the SD70ACes move about the BNSF system more freely than the MACs did. That may be simply because now that everything is AC it doesn't matter as much. Or, it may be that the MACs stay captive, because their AC gear is different than the ACes so they want to minimize support complexities.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, September 19, 2022 9:49 PM

YoHo1975
I believe Alliance is the Big EMD facility. 

For the MACs BN started buying them over the AC4400. Had a hand in their creation so I think that's part of why BNSF stuck with EMD for AC GE for DC for some time before moving to GE for AC as well.

 

I feel like the SD70ACes move about the BNSF system more freely than the MACs did. That may be simply because now that everything is AC it doesn't matter as much. Or, it may be that the MACs stay captive, because their AC gear is different than the ACes so they want to minimize support complexities.

Weren't the MAC's out and about - about a year or two before GE announced their product.  I recall CSX testing some BN MAC's for a month or so - never heard any results but when GE announced they had a product, CSX signed up for a bunch.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, September 19, 2022 10:33 PM

BaltACD
Weren't the MAC's out and about - about a year or two before GE announced their product.  I recall CSX testing some BN MAC's for a month or so - never heard any results but when GE announced they had a product, CSX signed up for a bunch.

The SD60MAC's were outshopped in June 1991 (the first two) and June 1992 (the second pair). 

The 350 unit SD70MAC order that Burlington Northern made was in the spring of 1993 (I don't have an exact date) and the first examples were received in November 1993 (Entering coal service in February 1994). 

EMD got their 2nd AC order at the end of 1993 or early 1994 when Conrail ordered 28 SD80MAC's. The first examples were outshopped in November 1995 followed by initial revenue trips in February 1996.

For GE, AC4400CW testbed #2000 was outshopped in June 1993. Union Pacific ordered 3 AC4400CW's to sample them in 1993, tacked on to a Dash 8 order. The UP units started to be outshopped in October 1994 and were GE's first order for AC's, as I recall.

CSX ordered the first big order of GE's AC units with 216 AC4400CW's (And 34 AC6000CW's) in December 1993, with the first AC4400CW's being outshopped in August 1994. C&NW ordered 35 in early 1994 with the first examples outshopped in November 1994. 

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