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International Spotlight: New Class of Locomotives in Australia

NRE lives and breathes where the “big boys” can’t play. Kirby Roseveare, Vice President of International Sales at NRE, sums it up that way. He’s talking about NRE’s recent contract with WATCO Australia for the design and build of eight light-axle, narrow-gauge locomotives in support of a large, new haulage contract.

Watco Australia, a subsidiary of Watco Companies, is a rail haulage operator that was formed in 2010 to haul grain for the CBH Group in Western Australia. Next year, it will start operating in Queensland under a seven-year contract with GrainCorp.

“WATCO demanded the utilization of a proven medium-speed diesel prime mover,” Roseveare said. “And being lean and agile, NRE is able to design and deliver that unique design within the required timeline.”

Using remanufactured major components, NRE is also able to stay within the capital expenditure limitations while delivering a proven, reliable product.

“The Queensland Australia network requires a very specific and unique set of design parameters,” Roseveare said.

The locomotives must be narrow-gauge (1,067 millimeter). They must have six axles, each able to carry 15.75 metric tons, with new NRE bogies. They must have 2,250 traction horsepower with a minimum radius curve of 80 millimeters. They must weigh no more than 94.5 metric tons with dimensions that do not exceed 3,900 millimeters in height, 2,850 millimeters in width and 19,018 in length.

Requirements also include a 12-645E3B diesel engine, an AR10/D14 main alternator, companion, 761 traction motors, a WBO compressor. The locomotive must have at least 27% adhesion available during traction mode with 99% reliability in all weather conditions and must demonstrate 250kN of adhesion-limited tractive effort.

Queensland Rail, founded in 1865, has more than 6,500 kilometers of track and 2,200 stations in Australia. The company has more than $6.9 billion in total assets and $1.9 billion in revenue, and employs more than 6,000.

Demo Units: Proven Great Values

The test drive isn’t unique to the automotive industry. When NRE introduces new locomotive technology, they don’t just release a spec sheet. They build fully equipped Demonstration Units that offer customers the chance to drive, challenge, and explore new locomotives. And much like the program cars of the auto industry, when these NRE Demo Units have introduced themselves to the market, their life isn’t over. They’re ready to find new, permanent homes. It’s a unique opportunity to purchase top locomotive technology that’s already been proven in the field.

The advantages to shopping NRE’s Demo Unit inventory begin with price. According to Mike Zerafa, Assistant Vice President of Business Development at NRE, customers can save up to 35 percent on a Demo, depending on its field usage. But significant cost savings isn’t the only plus. Purchasing an NRE Demo Unit offers immediate delivery that can be just as valuable.

“The advantage is that it’s ready and it’s available now, as opposed to waiting out a production time,” says Zerafa, who adds that a Demo purchase is a great option for a customer who has available capital now, or who has grant fund opportunities that must be utilized within a fixed time period.

Because NRE always builds Demo Units of its latest products, a rotating stock of current, top technology is available. If minor modifications are needed, NRE will work with purchasers to ensure any changes are managed in a cost-effective manner. As with any NRE purchase, Demo Units are backed by NRE’s unbeaten customer service, with service programs and guarantees available based on the unit’s age and usage.

And because it’s NRE technology, Demo Units are environmentally friendly, offering fuel reduction over conventional locomotives. Zerafa notes that in some cases, depending on duty cycle and customer use, these units use up to 35 percent less fuel than competing technology.

To check out NRE’s current Demo Unit inventory or for more information on purchasing, customers can contact their regional account manager directly or reach out to the NRE sales team at 618-241-9270 or via the website at nre.com.


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Building a Better Whole: NRE Parts & Structures

If the whole is going to be greater than the sum of its parts, those parts need to be the best they can be. NRE locomotives are the best in the business because every structure, assembly, component and technical feature is carefully engineered for top performance. That NRE craftsmanship is there for all clients, whether they’re looking for a locomotive fully built by NRE or the components, parts and structures to repair existing equipment.

NRE has the know-how and capability to design and manufacture the custom fabricated structures for your fleet, from FRA 229.217 compliant, crashworthy fuel tanks to FRA 229.141 compliant cabs, noses, underframes, draft gear pockets and anti-climbers. Each piece manufactured by NRE goes through a stringent process to make sure it meets and exceeds usage and safety parameters.

NRE’s fuel tank is a case in point. Tom Bonner, NRE’s Shop Supervisor, said that quality control started from the ground up to ensure safety. “The fuel tank design was run through an FEA (Finite Element Analysis) to check for any potential failures by means of a computer simulation to achieve a structurally crashworthy design,” Bonner said.

For a structure like a fuel tank, the end result is only as good as the quality of the welds. In recent years NRE revamped their welding process, purchasing high-tech equipment and bringing production in-house to ensure top quality.

“All of our welders are AWS D1.1 certified,” said Bonner. “Additionally, with the track welders we have in house, the required welds run the full length of the tank and are one continuous weld.”

Once completed, the fuel tanks are carefully checked for quality control.

“The fuel tank and the internal retention tank are pressure-tested for leaks to ensure no leaks are present at the completion of the tanks,” said Bonner.

No detail is too small at NRE. Gary Garich, Engineer at NRE, noted that NRE maintains quality control documents — detailed engineering specifications and instructions — that cover everything from tolerances for machined/fabricated parts and assemblies and leakage testing to paint preparation and application.

NRE isn’t just about the parts that do the “heavy lifting” side either. Developed by the NRE Electronics division, NCOMPASS offers real-time location and operational information on your mobile assets, with wireless technology that enables all your assets, worldwide, to be connected. Data available through NCOMPASS includes GPS, idle time, mileage, kilowatt hours, odometer, excessive speed reports and much more. Chelsi Langa, Production Coordinator at NRE Electronics, said that products developed by NRE Electronics include, but aren’t limited to:

NLIMIT – Reduces fuel consumption and exhaust emissions by monitoring locomotive operating parameters and automatically shutting down and restarting the engine during appropriate locomotive idle times.

NLIGHT – Locomotive light fixtures featuring LED technology.

NGAUGE – Customized, state-of-the-art liquid level/volume sensors built on GWR (Guided Wave Radar) technology. A high-speed pulse is launched down the probe, reflects off the surface of the liquid and returns to the probe. The total flight time of the pulse measures the liquid level.

NFORCE – A powerful microprocessor that controls various locomotive systems. Based on a modular concept, new functions can be added to the NFORCE system at any time without having to alter the overall system.

Whether it’s the “heart” or “brains” of the locomotive, NRE develops and provides the latest and highest-quality equipment and technology.

NRE Soliciting DBE/WBE Vendors

NRE is actively seeking vendors who qualify as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Women’s and Minority Business Enterprises (WBE/MBE) to supply parts and services at a competitive price.

We are expanding business opportunities to those who qualify; you must be reliable, have proof of certification and financial standing, and supply parts which meet NRE’s quality, cost and delivery standards.

Interested parties are to contact NRE.
NRE’s DBE Annual Overall Percentage Goal for 2018-2019 (Federal Fiscal Year 2019)

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), through the Federal Transit Administration and the Office of Civil Rights, manages the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.  The aim of the DBE program is to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of federally funded assisted contracts.  Each DOT-assisted state and local transportation agency is required to establish DBE goals; this includes suppliers like NRE classified as a Transit Vehicle Manufacturers (TVMs).  The DOT-assisted agencies establish contract specific DBE goals, where these goals are needed to ensure nondiscrimination in federally-assisted procurements.

NRE, as a certified TVM by the U.S. Department of Transportation, has established a DBE goal of funds that are anticipated to be awarded to qualifying DBE suppliers during FTA-assisted manufacturing projects. The DOT Federal Transit Administration maintains a listing of TVMs eligible to bid on federally funded transit agency contracts.

NRE, in meeting the requirements from the Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR 26.49, publicizes that NRE’s annual DBE goal for Federal Fiscal Year 2019 is 1%.

Emission Possible: NRE Continues to Set Global Standards in Pollution Control

“Our clean transportation efforts will achieve emission reductions, improve human health, and help protect the environment, while supporting clean growth and generating well-paying jobs for Canadians. We all will benefit by reducing rail sector emissions and by supporting research of new and emerging technologies.”

-The Honourable Marc Garneau, Canada’s Minister of Transport


NRE continues to set global standards in locomotive emissions. The company has been working in partnership with Canadian customers since new initiatives regulating air pollutant emissions for locomotives were launched through the Railway Safety Act last year. But NRE’s innovations in emissions controls started long before that with engines and systems that exceed emission standards and help move the industry forward.

In June 2017, the Canadian government passed new locomotive emissions standards and test procedures that brought those regulations up to the emissions standards set in the U.S. in 2010.

These new Canadian regulations apply to Class I and railway companies that make more than $30 million in revenue annually.

“Several of the Canadian Industrial businesses don’t currently fall under that regime,” said Paul Seguin, Key Account Manager for NRE. “You have to be defined as a railway company. If you’re operating a locomotive on your own line, you’re not classified as a railway. If you’re connecting to a major line, you may be defined as a railway.” Industrials however have volunteered to look at improving their fleet with T4 Switcher options for clean energy and environmental sustainability initiatives. NRE sees this as a huge opportunity with the Industrial customers as NRE’s T4 N-ViroMotive GenSet locomotive is the only 1200 HP T4 on the market that is a true switcher repower on a SW locomotive frame. About 90% of switcher locomotives were built prior to 1985, long before emission regulations, therefore there are over 10,000 locomotives today that are pre tier 0+.

But this is “step one” in Canada’s effort to overhaul its emissions regulations. Step two may lower the emission requirements, Seguin said, applying them to smaller operations. Whatever the future may bring, Seguin said that NRE is ready with its emission-friendly locomotives and tier emission kits.

“We can sell our N-ViroMotive T4 GenSet switcher locomotives to companies wishing to meet and exceed those new regulations,” Seguin said. “Or we can sell our Tier 0+ / Tier 3 engine rebuild upgrades on 645 and 710 engines so they can upgrade their locomotive fleet. NRE is actively discussing with all market segments in Canada our emission upgrade options and the increased interest has been exciting.”

The GenSet N-ViroMotive locomotive was developed and designed by NRE between 2001 and 2005 in response to the California Air Resources Board more stringent environmental regulations.

The first engine went into service in 2007. Today there are more than 300 N-ViroMotives in service throughout the world.

Seguin has been pouring over the new Canadian regulations and crafting his marketing approach to our northern neighbors.

“My strategy for every Canadian customer I’m calling on now is to ask them, ‘Hey, have you seen the new regulations?’ Some haven’t. Then I remind them about NRE’s emission-friendly products.

It’s been about a year since the new rules, so I revisit the topic with each call and every visit.

“With our GenSets and tier kits, these new regulations are a good step forward for NRE because we are ready for this.”

NRE services all locomotive diesel engines, gensets and power systems, regardless of manufacture, and offers emission compliant options that meet or exceed Tier 0+ through Tier 4 emission standards.

NRE’s Calgary Facility Stays on the Cutting Edge of Locomotive Electronics

NRE Electronics was founded in 2004 in Calgary, in the Canadian province of Alberta, to provide innovative and high-quality solutions for the railway industry by designing and manufacturing high-quality, highly reliable products for NRE customers across the globe.

“Our railway control products are used in a broad range of applications in industrial, and traction markets,” said Rod Brooks, NRE Calgary’s General Manager. “Our products are developed, designed and implemented by skilled engineers, technicians and programmers with extensive experience in the railway, power generation and industrial control industries.

“With NRE locomotive electronics, you can expect improved efficiency and operational performance using state-of-the-art global communication systems to bring you real-time information about your mobile assets,” Brooks said. “We take pride in the high performance and accelerated response time of our solutions and services.“

Calgary’s electronic innovations include the NFORCE Control System, which uses a power microprocessor to control locomotive systems and improve performance; the NLIMIT Idle Control Module that reduces fuel consumption and exhaust emissions; the NLIGHT, which uses less energy to provide similar or brighter lighting; NGAUGE, built on guided wave radar technology, which measures fuel levels; and NCOMPASS, which places location and operational information at operator’s fingertips.

“We understand basic business values like honesty and trust, and are committed to backing NRE Electronics products with excellence,” Brooks said. “It is considered a top priority for NRE Electronics to continuously improve the quality of our products and services to meet and exceed customer requirements.

“Our commitment to quality is geared towards satisfying our customers and employees with the aim of maintaining our leadership position as the provider of innovative solutions for the railway industry,” Brooks said. “We value loyalty and trust and are committed to backing NRE products with excellence.”

Electronic Actuator: One Governor Part Number for All of Your Engine Needs

NRE has stayed on the cutting edge of railroad electronic technology with production of the NRE Electronic Actuator, a plug-and-play replacement for the mechanical hydraulic Woodward PGR governor.

“The NRE Actuator mounts in the engine compartment using the existing mechanical actuator mounting position,” said Mike Zerafa, NRE’s AVP of North American Sales and Business Development.

“The Actuator is oil-free, eliminates the need for a load regulator and is a single-module design that can directly replace the PGR governor on a stand-alone basis or be further integrated using communications to the locomotive control system.”

The Electronic Engine Governor Actuator takes commands from either the standard engine control signals (AV, BV, CV and DV) or via SAE J1939 over CAN bus. Engine speed control is provided by adjusting the fuel control rack.

Benefits include integrated diagnostics and test capability for troubleshooting and rack calibration.

The actuator is onboard, in-the-field programmable and configurable.

“With the NRE Actuator’s powerful and flexible software, there will be no need to stock pre-calibrated governors for differing rack settings,” Zerafa said. “You’ll only have to stock one NRE governor part number for all of your engine needs.”


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NRE Installs NFORCE in all Electric Locomotive, Opening New, Growing Market

NRE is no longer just a diesel/electric locomotive control provider, not since its engineers successfully applied NRE microprocessors and choppers to an all-electric AC/DC traction locomotive.

“This is the first time NFORCE has been installed in an all-electric locomotive,” said Kirby Roseveare, Vice President of International Sales at NRE. “To date, NRE has only supplied to the diesel electric locomotive market. This opens up a large market which NRE has never serviced.”

NRE’s Independent Axle Control (IAC) system is state-of-the-art locomotive control that is easily applied and can be tailored to increase performance.

And because IAC installation is minimally invasive, there’s minimal risk. Add NFORCE’s real-time and remote diagnostic tools and downtime if minimized substantially.

Retrofits involve outfitting locomotives with NFORCE microprocessors and new IAC motor controllers or choppers on each axle. The choppers regulate the current supplied by the generator to the motors so that when a wheel slips, for example, the IAC system instantly cuts power to that wheel while it boosts power to the others, maintaining horsepower and speed.

And now that all of the benefits of the IAC system are available for all-electric AC/DC traction locomotives, NRE is positioned to tap into a new market that many rail experts predict will grow exponentially in the next decade.

Roseveare is convinced, as are many rail visionaries, that “the world is moving toward all-electric railway systems.”

Rail is already the most efficient form of ground transportation, vital to the U.S. economy. Proponents of railway electrification imagine fleets of super-efficient, all-electric railroads, arguing that it’s a natural transition for the rail industry, and an important part of a larger vision of a clean energy future for America.

MOVING FORWARD in 2018: Building on Success

NRE, with its strong roots and broad diversity, has remained a global leader in the rail transportation industry for years and remains at the vanguard despite recent market volatility. No matter the industry’s ups and downs, NRE has remained and will remain steady and successful, with diverse business strengths to rely on.

NRE designs and manufactures new locomotives from the ground up, and re-engineers used locomotives to give them new life.

NRE buys used locomotives and re-engineers them for sale and for lease, and services and maintains locomotives, including an extensive global field service network.

NRE manufactures and supplies parts to the locomotive market, and designs and manufactures electronic control and propulsion products to the rail industry.

“NRE started as a service business,” said Mike Zerafa, NRE’s AVP of North American Sales and Business Development. “Then, over time, it really got focused on new locomotives. With the market today as it is, we’ve gone back to our roots, and we’re doing a lot more service, component rebuilds, parts, and locomotive rehab.”

During 2017, NRE performed extensive locomotive service work in both the Class 1 and Short Line/Regional Railroad markets.

“We assisted customers in getting their locomotive fleet back in operation with minimal downtime,” Zerafa said. “NRE is a value-added, full-service provider with technical expertise and systems integration.”

NRE has also made recent inroads in the mass-transit segment of the industry, providing the services and machinery that keep people moving.

NRE received a significant number of orders from the transit segment in 2017, including an overhaul and upgrade of six GP40-2 locomotives that included engine upgrades to T0+ emission standards and to -3 technology, utilizing NRE’s NFORCE microprocessor that improves tractive effort and locomotive reliability.

NRE was awarded more than 40 engine overhauls by the transit segment, including NRE emission-certified 645T0+ engines. These engine rebuilds met the strict requirements of Buy America, a federal requirement that “steel, iron and manufactured goods used .. are produced in the United States.”

Transit companies are also fans of NRE’s Tier 4 switchers, which offer proven green technology. “Commuters like to buy our Tier 4 switchers because they’re very emissions conscious,” said Steve Sonni, Senior Account Executive. “NRE has the only Tier 4 switcher that is ARB-verified, which makes this locomotive eligible for grants, local or national.”

The NRE Tier 4 switcher has also been a product of choice for Amtrak, as well as the military, which has purchased more than 25 units from NRE over the last four years.

In 2017, NRE won multiple orders for the True Switcher, 2GS14B N-ViroMotive locomotives built on SW-type switcher frames.

The GenSet N-ViroMotive locomotive was developed and designed by NRE between 2001 and 2005 in response to the California Air Resources Board more stringent environmental regulations. The first engine went into service in 2007. Today there are more than 300 N-ViroMotives in service throughout the world.

“NRE has the True Switcher, a Tier 4 locomotive with our 600 horsepower (1GS) and 1200 horsepower ARB-verified switcher, retrofitted to EMD SW 1200 or 1500,” Sonni said. “NRE has been successfully providing switchers with this technology for more than a decade.”

NRE has also stayed on the cutting edge of railroad electronic technology with its 2017 launch for production of the NRE Electronic Actuator. After successful service testing with a number of customers, NRE began making a plug-and-play replacement for the mechanical hydraulic Woodward PGR governor.

“The NRE Actuator mounts in the engine compartment using the existing mechanical actuator mounting position,” said Zerafa. “The Actuator is oil-free, eliminates the need for a load regulator and is a single-module design that can directly replace the PGR governor on a stand-alone basis or be further integrated using communications to the locomotive control system.”

During 2017, NRE also installed several NRE-added value packages to older locomotives such as the GP7/9 or GP38/40’s, upgrading them to perform with 20-30% improved adhesion, greater reliability and improved diagnostics capability.

“The NFORCE systems come with optional, integrated, idle-limiting control that reduces fuel consumption and exhaust emissions,” Zerafa said. “Also available as part of the upgrade is the NCORDER Event Recorder.

“Our Tier 0+ certified engine rebuilds offer lower emissions and improved fuel economy,” he said. “All of these upgrades can be made to customer-owned locomotives or the extensive NRE used-locomotive inventory, available for immediate sale or lease.”

Also in 2017, NRE accepted a contract to modernize some heavy, four-axle, shunting locomotives for Slovenia Railways and simultaneously launched NRE’s EU-compliant propulsion system with IGBT technology.

The auxiliary drives of the class 642 and 643 Slovenian locomotives were replaced by electric ones, and new diesel engines with appropriate cooling, exhaust and fuel systems were installed. The diesel engines are modern railway duty engines, MTU models 12V 1600 R50 rated exhaust emissions standards (IIIB). NRE’s NFORCE microprocessor, developed for locomotive control, was also added.

NRE isn’t alone in its positive outlook. The rail transportation industry performed well in 2017 after struggling for the past couple of years, according to Zacks Equity Research.

“The 29.3% improvement in the Dow Jones U.S. Railroads Index on a year-to-date basis bears testimony to bullishness surrounding railroads,” the company reported recently.

NRE remains the world’s largest independent supplier of locomotive servicing and field services, new and remanufactured locomotives, and locomotive leasing and salvage. NRE manufactures and supplies locomotive parts, including state-of-the-art electronic and propulsion controls, and emission and fuel-saving technologies.