Old 05-26-2006, 06:01 AM   #1
StackTrain
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Default Why such diverse fleets?

Another question. Not that I am complaining, but why do the railrads operate so many different types of locos? I am also interested in the airline industry, and there fleet commonality is key to lowering costs. Mainly I'm wondering why do they order both Dash 9s and SD70s with similar capabilities? Thanks
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Old 05-26-2006, 12:22 PM   #2
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Different engines have different uses. DC and AC traction locomotives are used for separate applications, as well.
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:03 PM   #3
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I think the number of manufacturers are similar between airlines and railroads. Most Class One RRs have done away with Alcos and the like, leaving the major two: EMD and GE. Not being an airplane guy, I would assume airlines rely on Boeing and MD, with the occasional Airbus plane.

Within the "brands" of locomotives, size is a concern. Just as runways have a max size plane they can accommodate, trackage may only allow 4 axled units or weight. So keeping smaller, less roadworthy units (think Geeps), Class Ones can spend less on track improvements on certain less used lines.

But every month, Class One railroads retire/scrap/sell units or harvest parts of older engines.
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:41 PM   #4
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(off topic) Mcdonnell Douglas is going the way of Alco actually... Right now the biggest competitors are Boeing and Airbus for Jets, while regional is being controlled by Embraer and Bombardier.

As mentioned above, it's different types of purposes (yard duty, local duty, helper duty, cross-country lead, etc); different loads (Merchandise Vs Autorack, Aircraft fusalage vs grain); and different terrains (Midwestern plains vs Donner pass)

Also, many of these RRs are several different RRS merged into one. A company which owned primarily GE locomotives running out of the Southeast may Merge with a Company owning primarily EMDs running out of the midwest and West, therefore the merged company would own both types of locomotives, and they would purchase both types of locomotives because all the crews based out of the Southeast would be already trained and tooled for those GEs, while the Western Crews would already be trained and tooled for EMDs. So in purchasing 50 locomotives (35 EMDs based from Chicago and Bakersfield / 15 GEs based out of Atlanta) you would need to order a diversity.
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Old 05-26-2006, 04:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
(off topic) Mcdonnell Douglas is going the way of Alco actually... Right now the biggest competitors are Boeing and Airbus for Jets
Actually, MD has gone the way of Alco...they're long gone. They merged with Boeing in 1997. That's why there's no more MD-95s rolling off the assembly line but rather Boeing 717s (well, at least until the end of this month).

Anyway, to get back on topic, Stacktrain was asking why railroads order units with similar capabilities (i.e. ES44AC and SD70ACe, or AC4400CW and SD70MAC). I'm no economist, but I think having two companies that compete against each other benefits the railroads both in terms of price and emerging technology. If a company has a monopoly on locomotives, that company has no pressure to produce a better product since the railroads have no lace else to turn to. Plus, the monopoly allows the manufacturer to price the units where ever they want since the have no competition to drive the price down.

By purchasing both ES44ACs and SD70ACes, BNSF is throwing a bone to both companies to help themselves out in the long run as both companies will hopefully still be in business when the next generation of locomotive comes out.

Again, just speculation and with a background in meteorology, take that specualtion for what it's worth...
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Old 05-27-2006, 12:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
By purchasing both ES44ACs and SD70ACes, BNSF is throwing a bone to both companies to help themselves out in the long run as both companies will hopefully still be in business when the next generation of locomotive comes out.
Your speculation may be true. Interestingly we heard the same thoughts back in the 1970's when EMD was turning out thousands of SD40-2's and GE was selling a few of their fabulous U33/36C's. Purchasing decisions are often made by more mundane considerations such as price, delivery schedule, and warranty terms. The Class1's continue to place sizeable orders and the manufacturers can only build so many units. GE has made a decision to ramp up production a little at Erie while EMD has cut way back at La Grange and reached out to others such as Super Steel to help pick up the slack.
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