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GE launches Evolution prototype

01 Feb 2003

IN A CEREMONY on December 23, General Electric Transportation Systems rolled out a prototype of its Evolution Series diesel-electric locomotive at the Lawrence Park plant in Erie, Pennsylvania. The loco is designed to meet tighter Environmental Protection Agency standards coming into force from 2005, while using 3% less fuel than current models.

A team of 150 engineers and scientists has spent six years and approximately $200m developing a new 12-cylinder prime mover, dubbed the GEVO. This produces the same 4400hp as its 16-cylinder predecessor used in the AC4400 and Dash-9 models, but is expected to reduce exhaust emissions by 40%. The GEVO design has capacity for further upgrading when required to meet ever-tightening EPA regulations. GE has already obtained 25 US patents for the Evolution, has 13 more pending and has made 18 invention disclosures.

Three prototype locomotives have been completed so far, and they will shortly start testing in revenue service on various railways which have been GE customers in the past. The company expects to have up to 40 pre-production locos ready by the end of 2003, giving enough time to solve any problems arising from service experience before the 2005 deadline and acquaint potential customers with the new technology.

Production deliveries of the Evolution Series will begin in 2005. The new models will cost between $1·8m and $2·5m. This is about 10% more than current designs, but company officials point out that much of the extra cost would be recovered through fuel savings over the life of the locos. The locomotives are expected to be assembled at Lawrence Park, with the new engines coming from the company's engine assembly plant in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman participated in the unveiling ceremony, to emphasise the loco's clean-air credentials. She described the Evolution as 'the cleanest diesel-powered locomotive ever made - a real technological and environmental accomplishment of which GE should be proud. It just proves that you can have a good working relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency and business.'

President & CEO of GE Transportation Systems John Krenicki Jr was equally effusive in praising the agency. 'The EPA has done a terrific job communicating what the requirements are', he said. 'They were very consistent. Six years ago, we pulled together a team of scientists, engineers and customers to explore how we could build the most fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly diesel-electric locomotive. We wanted to not only meet EPA standards, but exceed them. This is a locomotive that will evolve and serve well over the next two decades.'

Other participants at the roll-out included US Representative Phil English and the Vice-President of GE Corporate Environmental Programs Stephen D Ramsey.


  • CAPTION: Environmental ProtectionAgency Administrator Christie Whitman and a green Santa Claus emphasised the Evolution's low exhaust emissions
  • CAPTION: At the heart of the Evolution Series is the newly-developed 12-cylinder GEVO diesel engine