CN to modernize 60 more locomotives

By Andrew Joseph, Editor

In late July 2023, the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and Wabtec Corporation announced an order to enhance 60 locomotives in the railroad’s existing fleet through Wabtec’s modernization program.

According to Canadian National, the financial investment supports the railroad’s commitment to drive growth sustainably and build success for customers, employees, and communities.

“Modernizing these locomotives cost-effectively improves the reliability of our existing fleet and contributes to reducing our rail carbon footprint,” stated Mark Grubbs, the Vice President of Mechanical at CN. “In addition to reducing the environmental impact of our own operations, it helps us reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of our customers.”

Wabtec is a leading global provider of equipment, systems, digital solutions, and value-added services for the freight and transit rail industries and has been a leader in the rail industry for over 150 years. Its vision is to achieve a zero-emission rail system in the US and worldwide.

CN’s rail network connects Canada’s eastern and western coasts with the US south through an 18,600-mile rail network.

The modernizations will help improve locomotive fuel efficiency. CN remains a leader in the North American rail industry, consuming approximately 15 percent less locomotive fuel per gross ton mile than the industry average.

The program supports CN’s science-based target to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 43 percent per gross ton mile by 2030 from a 2019 base year. It supports CN’s commitment to setting a net-zero 2050 carbon emission target aligned to a 1.5-degree scenario.

Wabtec will modernize CN’s 60 certified pre-owned Dash-9 locomotives (see image above) to bring the total modernized fleet to 110 locomotives.

The Dash 9 Series is a line of diesel locomotives built by GE Transportation Systems that replaced the Dash 8 locomotives in the mid-1990s. The Evolution Series superseded the Dash-9 in the mid-2000s, but it remains one of the most common locomotives in the US.

The company will transform the locomotives from DC- to AC-powered traction. It will feature enhancements such as the FDL Advantage engine upgrade and a suite of digital solutions, including Trip Optimizer and LOCOTROL Distributed Power.

These upgrades are expected to extend the life of the locomotives and provide benefits, including targeted fuel efficiency improvements of up to 18 percent through a combination of engine and digital technology enhancements, a more than 40 percent increase in reliability, and up to a 55 percent increase in pulling power.

The program is expected to enable CN to realize up to approximately 50,000 metric tons in annual greenhouse gas emission reductions—the equivalent of removing nearly 10,700 non-electric passenger cars from the road.

The modernization order will also reuse or recycle approximately 11,000 metric tons of steel.

“Our modernization solutions allow CN to enhance its existing fleet by upgrading to Wabtec’s state-of-the-art technology to enhance the locomotives’ performance to current standards,” explained Alicia Hammersmith, the President of Wabtec Freight Services. “Our modernization program supports the circular economy and is a key component of Wabtec’s sustainability approach through processes that reduce waste, extend life, and improve fuel efficiency, thereby driving emissions reductions and helping customers save money.”

For information on the two companies, please visit and

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