In the rail industry, all eyes are on the race to put the world’s best technologies into the next generation of higher-speed rail projects — especially those that may soon get the green light in the U.S. Already, California is in talks with manufacturers to build its own high-speed network, and Amtrak is considering massive upgrades that will include trains running between 110 and 124 mph in 10 U.S. corridors. As part of its push into that higher-speed arena, GE Transportation, which is the industry leader in diesel-electric locomotives, is already leveraging its latest breakthroughs in the passenger space — and one example is a deal announced today that will help power trains in the greater Boston area. Diesel engines, power systems, computer control systems and traction systems from GE — born from the Evolution series of more energy-efficient locomotives — will be going on 20 next-generation passenger locomotives as part of a contract between the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Wabtec’s locomotive-manufacturing MotivePower unit. With GE supplying components from plants in Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania, and Wabtec building the locomotives at its Boise, Idaho facility, the project is expected to create or retain 1,246 jobs.
The teams say that the new design, with its advanced traction technology and the ability to remotely monitor key diagnostics, is poised to deliver the most reliable and efficient passenger locomotive to date. Importantly, it helps position them “to lead the way in developing locomotives for the higher-speed rail corridors of the future,” said Wabtec’s President and CEO Albert J. Neupaver.
GE’s technology was developed for the Evolution Series Locomotive, which represents a $400 million, eight-year investment. Today more than 3,700 GE Evolution Series locomotives are in revenue service around the world.
Pennsylvania-based Wabtec’s decision to go with the GE components follows China’s decision in November to work with GE to accelerate the development of high-speed rail projects in the U.S.— and the announcement in April that the new partnership is in the running to power California’s planned high-speed passenger rail project.