New locomotives ensure energy-efficient transport post news gas prices under a dollar


Locomotives provide self-propelled power to push or pull other railroad cars. The new additions are known as “GenSet locomotives,” both N-ViroMotive model 3GS-21B, manufactured by the National Railway Equipment Company, headquartered in Mount Vernon, Ill. GenSet is short for generator-set locomotives.

The new additions will replace the EMD model GP-10 locomotives that have been in service since the 1950s. Fort Campbell acquired them in the 1990s after they were completely rebuilt. Of the three older locomotives, plans call for only one to be kept as a backup.

The GenSet locomotives, weighing in at 130 tons a piece, arrived at Fort Campbell in early February. Fort Campbell was one of the installations to receive them from the DOD and the U.S. Transportation Command as part of new equipment fielding, St. John said.

The GenSets are rated at 2,100 horsepower, a full 400 more than the models they are replacing. The GenSets are also 10 tons heavier and 6 feet longer than the GP-10s. Extra horsepower is critical, as Looney said “a little extra pulling power” is needed more now than in the past.

“The Army is using some tactical vehicles now that are bigger and heavier than what was used when the GP-10s were new to Fort Campbell,” he said. “Some of the trains we have moved over the last couple of years have put a strain on our old locomotives.”

Despite being bigger and yielding more horsepower, the GenSets offer better traction and fuel efficiency, Looney said. They are also in line with a more energy-conscious Army. The GP-10 locomotives were grandfathered in, Looney said, not meeting current EPA guidelines.

“The new locomotives use three sets of smaller I-6 engines paired with its own generator, and only one engine set is running until the computer senses a need for more power. Then it will start the second and third engine as needed when the load increases. It’s kind of like active fuel management in your car or truck. [National Railroad Equipment] claims a 40 to 60 percent reduction in fuel consumption on average.”

The new locomotives are completely computerized, which differentiates them from the durable, GP-10 workhorses, built long before the advent of the digital age. However, Looney and his team will still be able to conduct day-to-day maintenance as needed to change the oil or lights, as well as fuel the locomotives and more.

The GenSet locomotives will go into service immediately, with their primary use helping “to move tactical vehicles and shipping containers by rail,” Looney said. One train can move the same amount of freight as 70 to 100 tractor trailers and can stretch more than a mile in length, Looney added, which shows the importance of keeping Fort Campbell’s rail fleet up-to-date. Two locomotives are usually used in conjunction to pull freight here at Fort Campbell, with some 40 miles of Army railroad tracks located both on post and leading to Hopkinsville.

“Rail is definitely a valuable asset to Fort Campbell in terms of rapidly deploying and large training exercises,” Looney said. “Logistically it’s the most efficient way to get large amounts of cargo moved to support the warfighters’ mission.”