Chicago’s Metra debuted the latest addition to its locomotive fleet, a like-new, remanufactured locomotive that promises to increase reliability and efficiency and decrease emissions and operating costs.
The new locomotive, an EMD SD70MAC locomotive that was improved and reconfigured for passenger use with refurbished, upgraded, or new components, was painted in heritage Regional Transportation Authority colors to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the formation of the RTA.
The locomotive, now designated an SD70MACH, was assigned the number 500 in Metra’s locomotive numbering system.
“We are excited to introduce this new locomotive for My Metra riders,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “This locomotive and others to follow will replace some of the oldest locomotives in our fleet, and we would expect to see a significant increase in reliability and decrease in emissions as a result.”
The Metra board approved a $70.9 million contract to purchase 15 of the remanufactured locomotives in January 2019. The remaining locomotives will be delivered approximately one per month starting in November. The contract with Progress Rail Locomotives of La Grange includes options to buy up to 27 additional locomotives if Metra is satisfied with their performance and funding is available.
Metra opted to buy remanufactured locomotives instead of new locomotives primarily because it can buy more of them. A greater number of newer locomotives means Metra can replace a greater number of older locomotives and operate a greater number of trains with more reliable locomotives.
One big improvement will be in the traction motors, which deliver the power generated by the diesel engine to the wheels. The remanufactured locomotives have AC traction motors, which are far more durable and reliable than the DC traction motors in Metra’s older locomotives. For example, Metra currently needs to replace about 160 DC traction motors annually. On the self-propelled Metra Electric cars, the oldest of which have had AC traction motors for 14 years, Metra has not had to change a single traction motor.
The remanufactured locomotives have a similar design to Metra’s F59 locomotives, so Metra will be able to use the same inventory of parts and won’t need different training and maintenance programs. There will be a 34% increase in horsepower. Another major upgrade is a microprocessor-controlled brake system.
The remanufactured locomotives meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 emissions standards. Replacing 42 of Metra’s current locomotives that are rated Tier 0+ with 42 Tier 3 locomotives will eliminate 61 tons of nitrous oxide emissions annually — the equivalent to taking 6,600 cars off the road, according to Metra.