By Sgt. Robert Schaffner, The Frontline staffNovember 26, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. -- It's common knowledge that the Army has tanks, armored vehicles and a variety of heavy equipment, but, to mention a little known fact - that the Army has trains too - could possibly have someone calling you "loco."
Fort Stewart became the proud recipient of a new $1.5 million, 134-ton, N-ViroMotive Ultra Low Emitting Switcher locomotive Nov. 17.
The new locomotive will be replacing one of two, less fuel efficient, 1959, diesel locomotives, which operate on 17 miles of Fort Stewart owned and operated combined track located on and off the installation.
"Due to the rising cost of fuel and the maintenance involved in maintaining a dated fleet, especially with as much usage they have received due to deployments, it was time for a replacement," said Mark Weitman, the rail operations supervisor and an engineer with the container handling facility here. "The new locomotive will not only save fuel, but will be greener for the environment due to the lower emissions."
The locomotive being replaced operates on a conventional single engine, however, the new locomotive's engine operates in stages, thus saving fuel, reducing emissions and extending the life of the engine.
"The new locomotive has three separate diesel engines, which operate more efficiently than older models, and as the need for power increases or decreases the engines will kick on or off, depending on the horsepower needed," said Weitman. "(It's) almost like a hybrid car."
According to the manufacturer's Web site, the three-engine, 2100-horsepower locomotive, has a 700-horsepower continuous engine that averages a fuel savings of 40-65 percent (dependent on application) and can reduce emissions of nitrous oxide compounds and particulate matter by 80 percent when compared to older locomotives.
"Defense Generator and Rail Equipment Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, will be receiving the old engine where it rebuilds trains every seven to nine years and then places the locomotives back into service elsewhere," said Weitman. "Hill Air Force Base will also responsible for the annual inspection and maintenance as they are with the other locomotives for the Army."
The locomotives owned by the Army transport Fort Stewart equipment and vehicles to civilian rail lines for movement to various locations and ports throughout the United States.