GE TRANSPORTATION is to develop its first diesel locomotive design for the UK market, following an order for 30 units announced by Freightliner Group Ltd on November 26.

Freightliner currently operates a fleet of 127 EMD Class 66 locomotives to haul intermodal and bulk freight in the UK, and in common with other open-access operators has deployed the class on the European mainland in Poland.

To be developed under Project Genesis, GE's new JS37ACi design will feature AC traction motors individually controlled by separate inverters to give a higher starting tractive effort. It will also be '10% more efficient than previous locos', achieving fuel consumption of 197 g/kWh. Of the total saving, 3% will be due to using current generated by the traction motors during braking to drive auxiliaries, controlled separately from engine speed. It will also be equipped with brake resistors for rheostatic braking.

'We are excited to serve our new customers in the UK and to introduce our ground-breaking locomotive product to the market,' said Robert Parisi, General Manager of International Locomotives & Modernizations at GE Transportation. 'Not only will we improve our carbon footprint but will be able to move more payload per train than ever before', said Freightliner Group Chief Executive Eddie Fitzsimons.

Freightliner's Engineering Director Tim Sharkerley pointed out that 'packaging this technology into a locomotive compliant to the UK clearance gauge and axle weight is a tremendous challenge but we are confident that GE can achieve this'. The design will feature a narrow bodyshell with exterior walkway familiar from US practice, with an air-conditioned cab at each end.

The first JS37ACi underframe is due to be completed at GE's Erie, Pennsylvania, plant in January 2009. It is intended to undertake as much testing as possible in the USA, so that the first batch of six locos would be able to enter service soon after arriving in the UK in June or July next year.

JS37ACi in profile

Length over buffers mm 23 000

Height over cab mm 3 917

Width over cab mm 2 642

Total weight tonnes 129

Wheel arrangement Co-Co

Rating kW 2 750

Maximum speed km/h 120

Maximum starting tractive effort kN 534

Wheel diameter mm 1 067

Fuel capacity litres 6 000

Engine J616

Alternator GTA series

Traction motors 5GEB30