GE Transportation was a great growth story last year. The unit, which manufactures high-tech locomotives, mining equipment and other heavy machinery announced more than 2,400 jobs in the U.S. in 2011. It will invest over $400 million to open new plants and upgrade facilities in Pennsylvania and Texas. It also reported $2.1 billion in revenues for the first half of 2011, up 45% over the same period a year ago, and profits at $335 million, up 135%.
This economic engine is motoring ahead. Today, GE Transportation said that it would sell 43 ecomagination-qualified C30ACi diesel-electric freight locomotives to South Africa’s Transnet Freight Rail (TFR). This new purchase comes on top of a 100-engine order that TFR placed with GE two years ago.
The deal supplies South Africa’s aging train park with the first new locomotives in decades. The 3,300 horse power C30ACi engines were developed specifically for TFR and contain innovative GE technology that will boost South Africa’s aging locomotive fleet and add muscle to its hauling capability.
The C30ACi locomotives are striking 130-ton orange, green and yellow steel behemoths. But they zip along the rails with agility and grace. That’s because GE engineers came up with an efficient solution to transfer power from the engine to the wheels.
Think of the diesel-electric locomotive as a power plant on rails. The diesel engine converts fuel into electricity, which then spins traction motors that drive the axles. By relying on breakthrough technology that uses alternating current (AC) the engineers were able ramp up engine efficiency and hauling capacity without any additional fuel increase. As a result, three GE locomotives do the work of four older locomotives, lowering emissions by 1,400 tons of CO2 and saving the rail operator as much as 160,000 gallons of fuel per year.
The core parts of the locomotives such as engines, alternators, and traction motors will be manufactured in GE plants in Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania. They will provide work for hundreds of American welders, electricians, machinists and assembly workers. The locomotives will be put together at GE’s customer facility in South Africa.