Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reader Service Request - Part X

Prince Rupert, 1958. Finally the Reader Service Response I had been looking forward to the most arrived, from General Motors, La Grange Illinois!

They sent along a first class product catalog, and several booklets: “Power – the horsepower requirements for Diesel Locomotives” and “The Requirements of a Diesel-Electric Locomotive.”

My buddy and I were talking about the good old days, when a Northern Pacific FT came from McCook Illinois ...

and a Pacific Great Eastern RS-18 came from Montreal Quebec.

For many years, I lived in Vancouver Washington, about three miles from the wye where the Burlington Northern Santa Fe north-south interstate corridor splits to the east up the Columbia River Gorge.

Decided one day to grab my camera and watch several freight movements come and go. All I remember was the monotone shrill sounds of the super blown diesels.

I took a few photos, and when I got home, fired up the computer and downloaded my camera. I had no frigging idea what I was looking at.

I hit the erase button never returned.

In my “train-chasing career” perhaps the foremost change since the "Great Merger" was the demise of General Motors, Electro Motive Division, along with all the other changes in manufacturers. And along came, of all things, a snowmobile builder who now manufactures locomotives?

Bombardier Transportation builds everything from snowmobiles to executive aircraft. And I am sure their stockholders appreciate their diversity - although they seem to have problems these days with their snowmobiles!

Somewhere along the way, they hooked up with Electro Motive Diesel, formerly Electro Motive Division of London Ontario, and now manufacture General Motor’s locomotives in several different locations, including Mexico.

Bombardier Transportation has been involved in Mexico since 1982 when the company of its first contract in the market with Mexico City's Sistema de Transporte Colectivo-Metro for the manufacture of rubber-tired subway cars.

Since 1998, Bombardier's Sahagun ("saw-goon") Mexico facility has produced almost 2,000 locomotives for EMD. The first units were preceded by a pilot model locomotive, BNSF 9865 erected in London, Ontario. She was then sent to Sahagun as the “training” model used to build Burlington Northern Santa Fe SD70MAC’s, road numbers 9866 – 9942 and 9995 – 9999.

Since then, locomotives have been built in Mexico for several roads including the BNSF and Union Pacific (road numbers 8606 – 8620.)

And even the current worldwide financial chaos seems to be bypassing Bombardier. Andre Navarri, Bombardier Transport president, reiterated during a recent (October 2008) three-day investor tour hosted by
UBS that he believes the current economic downturn poses little threat to the rail division’s $31-billion backlog.

So now the question becomes one of, when one sees a GM locomotive rumbling down the track, how in are you supposed to know where on planet earth it was built?

“Made in Mexico?”

I remember when Lionel tried that ..

Related Reader Service Request reads:

Reader Service Request
Reader Service Request – Part II
Reader Service Request – Part III
Reader Service Request – Part IV
Reader Service Request – Part V
Reader Service Request – Part VI
Reader Service Request – Part VII
Reader Service Request – Part VIII
+ Reader Service Request – Part IX

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