The first 2 of Freightliner’s, General Electric built, class 70s have arrived in the UK from the GE works at Erie, Pennsylvania.
Forming part of Freighliner’s biggest ever single order for locomotives and GE’s entry into the UK’s rolling stock market, the 30 strong class are being introduced not to replace older electric powered traction, such as class 86s, but, in the words of Engineering Director Tim Shakerley, to “open up new traffic flows and help Freighliner grow.”
Before arriving in the UK the class 70s underwent a period of testing on GE’s test track. These included not only static tests, but ride testing, gauge and electromagnetic compatibility testing.
Traction motors on the 129 ton locomotives are individually controlled via separate inverters. This allows for better power distribution based on the available adhesion. Using an AC motor, with its better torque-speed curve, means the locomotive has a much higher starting torque, which in turn gives it a greater starting tractive effort.
The class 70s are the first diesel locomotive in the UK to be fitted with a rheostatic (dynamic) brake. When slowing it uses the traction motors to regenerate energy and feed electric current back into the locomotive, which is then used to drive the locomotive’s auxiliary motors.
To reduce down time, the class 70s are fitted with remote dial up software allowing the locomotive’s performance to be monitored in real time and find problems before anyone knows they are happening.
Freightliner also recognised the importance of driver comfort and the cabs are fitted with air conditioning and improved noise insulation.
In order to ratify the results from testing on GE’s test track, 70001 and 70002 are initially to be put to use on 2 of Freighliner’s most demanding routes. For Heavy Haul this will be a Portbury to Rugeley coal service.
These are very heavy trains and are routed over some steep gradients. For Intermodal the Birmingham to Felixstowe route will be used, as this will allow detailed examination of the class 70’s acceleration ability when hauling a heavy load of containers.
Speaking about the class 70’s V16-cylinder, twin-turbo, 3,700 horsepower PowerHaul series engine, Krikor Aghajanian, Manager European Sales Locomotives and Modernizations, said, “The vision was to have a diesel engine that was very efficient and could fit into a platform that we could develop for European markets.”
Tim Shakerley added, “The CO2 emissions from a class 70 hauled train will be approximately ten times less than that of its road equivalent.”
The fact that GE are very proud of the class 70s is in no doubt and speaking to RailStaff’s Jonathan Webb, Mark Linebach, GE’s Locomotive Engineering Program Leader said,
“I feel like the father who has just given away his daughter at her wedding!.”
The next 4 class 70s are expected to arrive at Newport in December.