NRE is known as the international leader in the industrial railway market. But there's more moving on the rails every day than freight. Mass transit continues to grow as cities and countries look for efficient, fast and environmentally friendly ways to help people get from one place to another, and rail transit is a vital and growing part of that picture. From Amtrak, to military transport, to metropolitan rail systems, NRE can provide the service and machinery to keep people moving.
NRE's reputation as a top builder and servicer in the railway industry attracted the attention of Keolis North America, which operates and maintains commuter rail lines throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), carrying more than 127,000 passengers throughout the Boston metropolitan area. In December 2016, Keolis contracted NRE to rebuild their engines.
Transit authorities across the nation and around the world rely on the expertise of companies like Keolis and NRE to keep daily operations running smoothly, says Steve Sonni, Senior Account Executive at NRE.
“The officials who run commuter rail don't necessarily have a background in railroading,” said Sonni. “They're the administrators. They put a package together to get the dollars to build the railroad, but then they need somebody who knows how to run the railroad.”
Work on the Keolis engines is taking place at NRE Paducah. NRE is rebuilding the engines with its Tier 0+ emissions kits and all-new power assemblies. NRE's ability to offer a top-quality, “greener” rebuild played a large part in winning the Keolis contract.
“Commuters go for very high quality,” said Sonni. “They want a top-quality product that will last for 10 years. We can provide that level of quality. It's important, because as a rule of thumb, commuters go over their locomotives just once every 10 years. NRE works to ensure that the engine that we rebuild is like new and will reliably operate with essentially no failures, no repairs, nothing other than what is considered routine maintenance for 10 years.”
Transit operators can also rest assured that an NRE overhaul is not only thorough, but customizable.
“NRE locomotive overhaul programs include a complete unit teardown and inspection of both electrical and mechanical systems, which includes everything — frame, trucks, engine, air brakes and even a superb paint job, all per customer specification or requirement,” Sonni said.
Indeed, an NRE overhaul can not only make a locomotive like new — it can even make it better than new.
“NRE manufactures the NFORCE microprocessor, which has capabilities to increase adhesion and which provides wireless diagnostics,” said Sonni.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation, CTDOT, also chose NRE when it came time to service their fleet, ordering NRE overhaul for six of its GP40-2H locomotives.
Kraig Roberts, North American Sales at NRE, says NRE's expanded capabilities and top-end results made it an easy choice for CTDOT.
“The agreement includes field service support for two years during the warranty period,” Roberts said. “NRE offered over 90 percent of content to be done in-house, which made delivery preferential. We're also upgrading these units with the NFORCE microprocessor control system with integrated AESS, which means that there will only be one box which will include the microprocessor and NLIMIT (AESS). This will increase their adhesion to the rail and provide fuel savings through the AESS system.
“Since NRE manufactures NFORCE and NLIMIT, NRE is able to offer a competitive product, with control software/firmware updates, analytics on diagnostic and fault download information, and better customer service,” Roberts continued.
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 Sonni. “They like to be good neighbors. NRE has the only Tier 4 switcher that is ARB Verified, which makes this locomotive eligible for any available locomotive grants, local or national. Commuters often rely on grants to help support their locomotive purchases. There are other Tier 4 locomotives that are switchers, but they didn't go through the rigorous California ARB verification process which we did.” Sonni notes that the Tier 4 switcher has also been a product of choice for Amtrak, as well as the military, which has purchased 25 units over the last three years.
NRE is looking forward to continuing to build its presence in the transit industry.