GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

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GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby hotbike » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:40 pm

This article has come across my desk today. I never heard of these before, and unfortunately, I can't find the exact model number of these units. The article claims this is the largest "Private" railroad in the world.


http://www.pddnet.com/news/2014/09/forg ... cation=top

http://gereports.com.au/post/02-09-2014 ... ra-to-port

http://gereports.com.au/post/28-08-2014 ... -ore-trail

Quote: "….To cope with ambient temperatures that regularly hit 55 degrees Celsius in the Pilbara region, the locomotives are enhanced with high temperature advanced cooling systems and a second radiator fan…"

If anyone has information pertinent to these Locomotives, please add a reply to this thread.
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:20 pm

Calling the railroad the largest "private" railroad in the world does sound funny: the contrast, however, is not with government-owned railroads (obviously this line isn't as big as Union Pacific!), but with railroads that are common carriers, that carry freight for customers other than their owners. Rio Tinto's railroad is private in the sense that they are owned by the mining company and operated as a dedicated hauler of mine produce.

As for the locomotives… They are ES44-something: I don't remember if they are AC or DC. They are also bait modified from the standard North American version (but I don't know if GE thought the modification merited putting an "m" at the end of the model designation or not). The big modification is for coping with the heat: the radiators are larger than on North American units. I think they are built on slightly longer frames (so they are 76 feet long, like the AC60) than standard to accommodate the larger radiator compartment. (A minor, but visible, change is the two-rail handrails along the sides: I think they are legally required on Australian locomotives, because of tighter safety regulations than in North America.)
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:31 pm

We had a short string on Rio Tinto's locomotives back in 2007, when the first ones were built: it's currently about two-thirds of the way down the send page of this Forum's archive, titled "Rio Tinto ES44DCi". So-- direct current traction motors, "i" (for "international," I think: a lot of GE locomotives for non-Norh American customers have that suffix on their model designations) marking the modifications.
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby NorthWest » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:30 pm

The thread is here: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=46207
It is interesting to note that the radiators are a stretched version of the standard EVO radiators, not the larger radiator that is used on the ES58ACis and the TIER IV ES44AC prototypes. Otherwise, IIRC they are mechanically identical to other ES44DCs. "i" does indicate an export unit. They do have longer than standard frames, and I think they look like an interesting "what if" ES60AC. Note the teardrop windshields and marker lights that only CN uses in North America.
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby hotbike » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:02 pm

OK.

(Just want to note: EMD used the letter "I" to designate "Isolated", as in the SD60i , which had it's cab mounted on thick blocks of rubber, to make it quieter for the crews. Conrail was the only railroad that ever bought the SD60i.)
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:20 pm

Hotbike--
Yes. EMD and GE naming conventions are, as one would expect, different. For instance, when the two builders started producing units with wide-nose cabs for the U.S. market, in about 1989, EMD used an "M" suffix on the model number for this feature, whereas wide nose GE units have the suffix "W". GE uses "m" and "i" a lot: both written lower case. Supposedly the m stands for 'modified', and can mark almost any non-standard feature: wide gauge trucks on units for Brazil, for example. (Brazil uses the Irish/Victorian gauge on… some… of its railways). The i is I think for 'international,' and denotes units built for non-North American railways: in some cases modified versions of North American models, in others (like the full-width carbody units built in Kazakhstan) radically different in appearance.

As for the "isolated" cab… Conrail was the first customer, but several railroads (CN for example) got later models with isolated cabs: SD70i or SD75i. On the other hand, I ***think*** (somebody correct me if I'm wrong) EMD liked the sound of "SD70MAC" for the wide-nose units with AC traction motors, and continued to use this designation even though some such units had isolated cabs: "SD70IAC" just doesn't sound like a good hamburger!
…I am not sure whether GE ever built locomotives with isolated cabs analogous to EMD's, but when the "Evolution" (GEVO-engined) line was introduced (in about 2004) they tried an alternative route to isolating the cab from engine vibration and sound: the engine itself got "rubber" mounts to the locomotive frame.
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby MEC407 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:56 am

On the subject of EMD's isolated cabs: the official company term for those cabs was WhisperCab™. I'm not sure if today's EMD still uses that name or not. This method of cab isolation was also used in the F59PHI, and if you search Google for in-cab photos of those locomotives, you'll often see a WhisperCab™ decal inside the cab.

Having spoken with an Amtrak engineer who operated F59PHIs extensively on the west coast, he tells me that those cabs were/are absolutely miserable to operate in. LOUD, cramped, and they rock&roll so badly that he would feel significantly worse after a day of work than in a non-WhisperCab™ locomotive. He found the GE P40/P42 cabs to be much more comfortable, and quieter too. I've heard similar things about the WhisperCab™-equipped SD70MACs, SD90MACs, etc.

In-cab photo of an SD75I with WhisperCab™ decal visible above the windshield: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=421380

In-cab photo of an SD60I -- someone took a Sharpie and changed WhisperCab™ to "WhistleCab": http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=214470
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby NorthWest » Sun Sep 14, 2014 11:56 am

EMD and GE nomenclature systems are different, and they have varied over time.
The isolated cab was an option until it became standard (2003?), and was used on the remainder of the SD70MACs.
One interesting note is that the first SD70ACes lacked isolated cabs (IIRC, they weren't even an option on early production) despite the SD90MAC-Hs having them. They share the cab design. These SD70ACes are banned from leading on BNSF due to vibration and noise. There has been talk of a tendency for isolated cabs to break away in a collision.
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby MEC407 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 2:02 pm

NorthWest wrote:There has been talk of a tendency for isolated cabs to break away in a collision.


Yes. And pictures to back up that talk. Not pretty... :(

More info on that can be found in this thread in the EMD forum: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=96134

GE's isolation solution (involving the engine mounts rather than the cab) seems to be more effective AND safer.
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby CREEPING DEATH » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:02 am

I believe they ride on (possibly slightly altered) AC60 frames, for the extra cooling needed.

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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby MEC407 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:18 pm

Just saw this video of some Evolution Series locomotives being tested in Erie before they head to Australia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXGcp0n8QIc
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Oct 03, 2014 2:01 pm

Re: MEC407--
Nice video! Shows the oversize radiators very well (fact that edge of radiator wingspan is painted a colour that contrasts with the hood helps), and the Ozzie-style two-rung handrails. The map in the logo on the side of the long hood seems to be Western Australia: the Australian state in which the Rio Tinto iron ore railway is located.
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby MEC407 » Fri Oct 03, 2014 5:07 pm

The radiator section is nearly twice the length of the engine itself. Quite a change from years past!
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Re: GE Evolution Locomotives in Australian Rio Tinto Fleet

Postby NorthWest » Fri Oct 03, 2014 5:55 pm

Yes, although it appears the units are built to the same design, and are just in different paint. These aren't owned by Rio Tinto, but another mining company. The paint seems to emphasize the radiators more. Knowing what Pilbara units usually look like, the white won't stay white for long.
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