On July 17, 2015 we had the opportunity to tour General Electric Transportation's locomotive plant in Erie, Pa. The occasion was a monthly meeting of the Western Pa. Water Pollution Control Association, which I have been a member of for 34 years! We meet monthly at an industrial or municipal facility in Western Pennsylvania to enhance our knowledge of water treatment process technology. On this day, we were primarily interested in learning about GE's wastewater treatment technologies. However, for those that attended, there was a special treat in store - a tour of the locomotive assembly line! About 40 members of the association attended the meeting and a luncheon that followed. This report includes photos and information we learned that day as well as what I was able to find on the Internet.
This video shows both the overhead crane in action and the export locomotive being moved out of the assembly area on a flat car.
GE Transportation's sprawling facility covers 340 acres and parts of it date back 100 years or more. There is a two-mile test track along the eastern edge of the plant where locomotives are tested for different durations, depending upon the customer's requirements. With 5,500 current employees, it is the largest employer in the Erie region, but there are often layoffs when orders are slow. 2015 is shaping up to be their biggest year yet with a projected 500 locomotives produced. Below is a detailed map of the facility.
On three consecutive days (July 5th-July 7th), my dad and I saw three special trains. The first two were heritage units, but the third train was the crown of the railroad, the Norfolk Southern Office Car Special, running with all four locomotives and fourteen cars. Pictures, videos, and more in depth descriptions are below. Enjoy!
A mixed freight came while waiting for the Conrail heritage unit in Larimer, PA. In the lead was an SD80MAC. Conrail was the only railroad to purchase SD80MAC units and although they were split between NS and CSX at the demise of Conrail, they have recently been reunited on NS after a trade with CSX.
Triple Crown Services was a joint venture between Conrail and Norfolk Southern, utilizing the idea of eliminating flatcars from intermodal trains and just having the specially-equipped trailers ride on trucks to reduce weight. The service is now wholly-owned by NS. This trailer with mismatched panels has seen better days.
The Office Car Special came through in all its glory with the sun cooperating for a perfect photo! The train was coming east from Chicago and had stopped in Cleveland the night before. The train only had three locomotives going to Chicago and back to Cleveland, but one of the B units was sent west from Altoona the night before to be added. Executives get what they want I guess! As it passed, the lead unit had a few extra people in it and had the side doors open.
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