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Wabtec modernizes 1,000th locomotive

Modernization of aging locomotives makes them more fuel efficient, Wabtec says

(L to R) Tom Schnautz, VP of Advance Train Control for Norfolk Southern, and Pascal Schweitzer, President of Wabtec Freight Services, pose for a photo at Wabtec'’s locomotive plant on Friday in Forth Worth, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for Wabtec)

Wabtec has modernized its 1,000th locomotive in North and South America, the rail equipment manufacturer noted on Friday.

Wabtec (NYSE: WAB) says rehabilitating older locomotives has resulted in up to a 25% increase in fuel efficiency, a more than 40% increase in reliability, up to a 55% increase in haulage ability and up to a 20% reduction in maintenance, repair and overhaul costs.

By making older locomotives more fuel efficient, the 1,000 locomotives have reduced their carbon emissions by more than 1.4 million tons since 2015. An equivalent reduction would be removing the emissions from 340,000 cars, according to Wabtec.

“The modernization program has been a tremendous success and has created a new segment in the market. It is now a key pillar of fleet management strategies for many railroads,” said Pascal Schweitzer, president of Wabtec Freight Services. “That is a tribute to our employees, suppliers and customers. From product development to industrialization, their support was essential in making this service such a success in the market.”

The company delivered the latest modernized locomotives to Norfolk Southern, the company said Friday.

NS (NYSE: NSC) accounts for 500 of the 1,000 locomotives that Wabtec has modernized, according to Wabtec. 

A before and after look at Norfolk Southern locomotives at Wabtec’’s locomotive plant on Friday in Forth Worth, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for Wabtec)

“As a leading transportation provider, it is our responsibility to reduce our environmental impact,” said Tom Schnautz, NS vice president for advanced train control. “Our partnership with Wabtec is one way we plan to achieve our target of a 42% reduction in emissions intensity by 2034. Wabtec’s program is maximizing the value of our locomotives, lowering operating costs and reducing emissions.”

Wabtec’s modernization program entails reusing a locomotive’s existing steel via requalification and remanufacturing process. This process reduces emissions. More than half of a locomotive’s critical components are reused, rebuilt or remanufactured at least three times over their useful life, Wabtec said. The company conducts the modernization program at locomotive plants in Erie, Pennsylvania; Fort Worth, Texas; and Contagem, Brazil.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.