More power to pull Supertrain: CSX's revolutionary diesel -- gives new meaning to the phrase, "More powerful than a locomotive."

September 14, 1996|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,SUN STAFF

CSX Transportation Inc. yesterday unveiled its new $2 million locomotive, hailing it as revolutionary equipment that can push and pull far more freight and boost the railroad's productivity in the lucrative freight arena.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad, which employs 1,500 people in Maryland, becomes the first in North America to place the 6,000-horsepower engine, known as the GE AC6000CW, into service. Most other engines currently in use have 4,000 horsepower.

"It means a new generation of horsepower that allows it to pull 30 percent more freight," Peter Carpenter, president and chief executive officer of CSX, said during ceremonies at the B&O Railroad Museum roundhouse in Baltimore.

Standing next to a replica of Peter Cooper's historic "Tom Thumb," the nation's first practical steam locomotive, CSX officials compared the advent of the 210-ton, 76-foot-long locomotive to the era when locomotives moved from steam to diesel.

Designed and built by GE Transportation Systems of Erie, Pa., the six-axle locomotive can be used to pull trains that previously required two or three conventional locomotives. It is capable of attaining a maximum speed of 75 mph, yet has the ability to stop quickly from a high speed. The engine also features a horn that can be heard for five miles.

The locomotive has a newly developed diesel engine that increases fuel efficiency while producing lower emissions. During the next nine months, CSXT will test three locomotives, costing more than $2 million each. The locomotive will operate on tracks in Maryland where it made its first revenue-producing trip from Cumberland to Baltimore last week.

Carpenter said the company has committed $700 million to the project and plans to place another 50 locomotives into service over the next two years. CSXT, a subsidiary of Richmond-based CSX Corp., operates rail transportation and distribution services over an 18,600-mile network in 20 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada.

During yesterday's ceremony, the locomotive was christened The Spirit of Maryland by U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. It drew a number of other top Maryland officials, including many currently involved in touchy negotiations with CSXT over the MARC commuter rail service.

CSXT has a contract with the state to operate MARC service on the Camden and Brunswick lines. State officials are pushing to improve and expand commuter rail service while CSXT argues that MARC's growing demands conflict with the operation of its far more lucrative freight business.

"The economics are more favorable toward the freight side and we understand that," U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a 3rd District Democrat, said yesterday. "But passenger services must be maintained, improved and expanded. That's not inconsistent with a healthy freight industry."

Pub Date: 9/14/96

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