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View Full Version : Why did Norfolk Southern buy SD70ACe's?


GuilfordRailSD45
05-25-2011, 01:18 PM
Hey guys,

I am doing a railroad-related assignment for school; we were assigned to create our own newspapers based on a subject of our choice.

Anyhow, I am doing one of my articles on Norfolk Southern's purchase of SD70ACe locomotives.

Does anyone know why NS purchased the SD70ACe's when they have been getting SD70M-2's all along?

Thanks!

JRMDC
05-25-2011, 01:46 PM
From the Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMD_SD70_series

"The SD70M-2 is a DC traction version of the SD70ACe, and the two models are nearly identical in every other respect."

You want to learn and understand the difference between AC and DC locomotives and why railroads pick one or the other. I think there was an article in Trains magazine in the last year or so. It may have even mentioned NS's recent change in what they buy. There may also have been press releases at various points in time.

BTW, often teachers require you not to rely on the Wiki, so find some good sources. When I am doing serious research the Wiki is a starting point, not a final source.

Also, investigate the impact of changes in EPA emissions regulation, look for information on various "Tier"s.

troy12n
05-25-2011, 02:27 PM
I'm guessing it's because they give EMD a token order or 2 every few years to use as leverage (to get better pricing) when they buy more units from NS. It's why they bought approximately 250 SD70/70M/70M-2 units and over 1000 dash 9's. CSX does the same thing, look at their 2003 order of SD70MAC's (4700-48xx). The bought about 150 of them (over 3 orders), and over 600 AC4400CW variants.

They have orders on the books for ES44AC and SD70ACe. They are buying more of the GE product which should speak volumes. I have no idea why they would just order 25 AC EMD units per year over 4 years, it makes no sense. But NS does this sort of stuff, their first few SD70 orders were all very small as well. One of them was only 10 units I think.

PLEzero
05-25-2011, 03:06 PM
Hey guys,

I am doing a railroad-related assignment for school; we were assigned to create our own newspapers based on a subject of our choice.

Anyhow, I am doing one of my articles on Norfolk Southern's purchase of SD70ACe locomotives.

Does anyone know why NS purchased the SD70ACe's when they have been getting SD70M-2's all along?

Thanks!

Talk to Chris Toth. He is very knowledgeable and will give you a very accurate response.

http://www.jreb.org/ns/index.php?PHPSESSID=2813dbc92500ea509bfa656cfecd08 41&board=3.0

Joe the Photog
05-25-2011, 03:25 PM
Heck, call Norfolk Southern and explain what you're doing and why. Try their press page on the web site. Chris Toth would be a good source, but you'd win points with your teacher by being able to write, "According to Norfolk Southern spokesperson ______ ______, the company purchased the new models because....."

troy12n
05-25-2011, 04:03 PM
Heck, call Norfolk Southern and explain what you're doing and why. Try their press page on the web site. Chris Toth would be a good source, but you'd win points with your teacher by being able to write, "According to Norfolk Southern spokesperson ______ ______, the company purchased the new models because....."

Or he could say "according to Troy12N on railpictures.net..." :lol:

oltmannd
05-25-2011, 06:19 PM
Heck, call Norfolk Southern and explain what you're doing and why. Try their press page on the web site. Chris Toth would be a good source, but you'd win points with your teacher by being able to write, "According to Norfolk Southern spokesperson ______ ______, the company purchased the new models because....."

Yes, definitely talk to or email NS. But, start by reading the press releases that announced the order plus any other published material you can find. Look for stuff in Railway Age and Progressive Railroading plus Trains. Forget about most of what you read in the railfan press. (e.g. Railpace)

There was a quickie interview with NS's VP mechanical in a recent Trains and this topic was covered.

Slopes09
05-26-2011, 03:16 AM
I think the bigger question, is why has Norfolk Southen, a railroad that has traditionally been an advocate of DC traction, actually purchased several AC locomotives?

Here are some basics. Any electric motor (such as a traction motor) requires the reversal of a magnetic field within the motor. There are two ways to achieve this.

A Direct Current locomotives uses commutators on the rotor that are in physical contact with a brush to achieve the field reversal. Because of this physical contact, these locomotives require more physical maintenance on them. DC traction motors also tend to "burn" themselves up at low speed, making DC locomotives less than ideal at low speeds.

Alternating Current locomotives use the basic nature of the current running through them to achieve field reversal. Because of this, no physical contact is requires between the rotor and anything else. Consequently they require less physical maintenance on the locomotive. AC locomotives perform very well in low speed service.

However, despite the fact that AC locomotives sound like a panacea to your locomotive problems, there is a drawback: $$$$. All of this requires more complex systems, and they have a significantly higher first cost. They can also be more of a pain to maintain due to the complex systems.

So, the principal economic debate going on is whether they'd rather pay significantly higher up-front cost, or just pay the cost of replacing the commutators. Each road seems to have their own philosophy. BNSF seems to have more or less standardized on AC Power on their low speed coal trains, but DC power on their fast intermodal trains (the new ES44C4s notwithstanding). UP seems to be putting the ACs on everything. NS (mostly) and CN have decided that it's far cheaper and easier to continue replacing the commutators. Which is right? No one is really sure yet. Despite the fact that the first AC locomotive came out nearly 20 years ago, I don't think I've seen a definite study on whether AC locomotives are worth the money.

PM me with your e-mail and I'll send you a few presentations and lectures from one of my rail engineering courses that might help you out.

J
05-26-2011, 03:18 PM
Often a carrier's policy is based on the views of a key individual and things can change as people retire. NS and CN used to say they can run any train that fits their railroads (siding lengths, etc.) with 2 modern DC units. NS, of course, got some early experience with the Conrail SD80MACs and may be testing the concept; AC power requires more complex control ssystems but also has much more rugged traction motors.

troy12n
05-26-2011, 04:11 PM
csx and BNSF more or less have the same approach to their power utilization, although an AC unit will show up on anything every once in a while. On the "coal corridors" like the Clinchfield and C&O mainlines, you see 90% AC units with everything else being the exception. Stack trains get mostly ES44DC's and to some extend CW40-8's and the few CW44-9's they have. For a while they would use the AC6000's too, but they seem to have fallen out of favor on them.

Bryan Jones
05-28-2011, 08:52 AM
Hey guys,

I am doing a railroad-related assignment for school; we were assigned to create our own newspapers based on a subject of our choice.

Anyhow, I am doing one of my articles on Norfolk Southern's purchase of SD70ACe locomotives.

Does anyone know why NS purchased the SD70ACe's when they have been getting SD70M-2's all along?

Thanks!

The primary reason is due to a shift in motive power philosophy on the NS. In heavy haul serivice where the AC traction units are primarily assigned you are able to use fewer locomotives. Previously where 3 DC traction units may have been used, 2 AC units will be able to handle the same train. Now the 2 AC units may not be able to haul the train as fast as the 3 DC units, but speed is not always the most important factor. Fewer locomotives are needed, overall lower fuel consuption due to fewer units and reduced maintainence costs all factor in. The same logic applies to NS choosing the GE ES44AC over the ES40DC.

Bryan Jones
Brooks,KY

Bryan Jones
05-28-2011, 09:16 AM
I'm guessing it's because they give EMD a token order or 2 every few years to use as leverage (to get better pricing) when they buy more units from NS.

They have orders on the books for ES44AC and SD70ACe. They are buying more of the GE product which should speak volumes. I have no idea why they would just order 25 AC EMD units per year over 4 years, it makes no sense. But NS does this sort of stuff, their first few SD70 orders were all very small as well. One of them was only 10 units I think.

No.

Current orders for NS involve 25 SD70ACe's per year over a 4 year period. Equally they have ordered 25 ES44AC's per year for the next 4 years. Both EMD and GE contracts call for a total of 100 locomotives each. They ordered 25 EMD units per year for the same reason they ordered 25 GE's per year. No token orders.

Before either of these orders were placed NS ordered 42 ES44AC's from GE during late 2010. NS was quite power short and GE able to deliver the units in a nearly immeadiate time frame. These units came nearly 2 years after the initial order for 24 ES44AC's which were the first AC traction units ordered by NS. NS was able to take near immeadiate delivery of these units in Fall 2008 after signing the contract due to the fact that the materials were already in the pipeline for a CSX ES44AC order which was canceled. These 24 units were a true token order for NS and the performance of these ES44AC's finally convinced the railroad to shift to AC traction.

Bryan Jones
Brooks,KY

GuilfordRailSD45
05-29-2011, 06:13 PM
Thank you everyone for all of the input, I greatly appreciate it. I figured this would be place to go for my question, and I can see that I was certainly correct. Thank you very much.

To Slopes09, I am still looking to touch up my article and a few more details, so I'll PM my email address to you right now. Thanks!

Cameraman
05-29-2011, 06:33 PM
A little added input: I get some of this from reading Railway Age, an industry magazine not a railfan publication. From the onset, NS decided DC did the job and while AC had some advantages, the NS motive power chief felt that the advantages did not EQUAL the higher cost. AC units are on a downward sloping price scale, the longer they produce them the cheaper they become. At a certain point the added cost is low enough to equal the advantage.

Also DC units are on a upward sloping price scale. As fewer and few are produced the price for DC actually goes up. At a certain point the two slopes cross each other.

The technology factor plays in as well. At some point NS had to make the move to the most current technology. As the builders who may want to get out of building DC units altogether will price DC higher to make them even less desirable. Once no one orders them they go away.

CM