BioEditThe GE (General Electric) C44-9W (C44-9CW, CW44-9, Dash 9-44CW, Dash 9-44W, or simply "Dash 9"), is a type of 16-cylinder, 4,400hp six-axle diesel locomotive built from 1993 to 2004.
Many were built (close to about 3,500 to 4,000), and are still currently in service on most US and North American Class 1 railroads (while BNSF and Norfolk Southern have the two largest fleets of Dash 9 units).
BNSF Railway (after the BN-ATSF merger in 1995-1996), Norfolk Southern, Santa Fe (ATSF; prior to the BNSF merger) Southern Pacific (SP), Union Pacific (UP), and the Chicago and Northwestern (CNW) were among the primary railroad customers to purchase the Dash 9, which boosted GE's locomotive sales dominating over EMD during the 1990's. Later customers who purchased the Dash 9 were companies such as CN, Pilbara Ore, and BC Rail.
As of late-2014, all of Norfolk Southern's C40-9W units have been re-rated to 4,400hp, making them officially known as C44-9W's.
HistoryEditIn the early 1990's, the Chicago And North Western (CNW) experienced a slight struggle for horsepower in hauling their increasingly long Powder River coal trains. Despite having experimented with a boosted 4,125 horsepower output from their existing C40-8 fleet (and subsequent orders of later units), the demand for increased tonnage, tractive effort, and speed was apparent. The solution to these problems arose when CNW contacted GE in 1992, and asked the builder for an "enhanced" Dash 8 locomotive with an additional 10% traction power (4,400 instead of 4,000) to boost train speed while reducing wear and tear on their existing fleet on said coal trains or coal drag service. Over the next several months, the two companies collaborated and with combined efforts, successfully developed and launched what eventually became the "Dash 9" locomotive model in mid to late 1993 (which further sparked more interest in patenting the AC-traction AC4400CW). Further inheriting the concept, other western carriers such as Union Pacific (UP) took delivery of 40 units to supplement their existing C40-8W (and subsequent C41-8W units) for their Powder River coal drag service in 1994. Southern Pacific (SP) on the other hand, acquired a total of 101 units prior to placing an order for 279 AC-traction AC4400CW's a year later in 1995. That same year, Norfolk Southern (NS) sought interest in the model, but ultimately specified a standard cab ("Spartan cab" or "conventional cab") in-place of the North American Safety Cab ("wide-cab") , as well as a 4,000hp rating. But Because of the FRA's "Safety Cab" requirements which took effect for Class 1 railroads beginning 1995, NS was forced to have their fleets of exclusive, standard-cab C40-9 units be re-ordered into C40-9W units instead. Thus, the development of the exclusive standard-cab variant (the C40-9) ordered by NS ceased production, and was ultimately replaced with its wide-cab counter-part beginning in 1996 (with final orders received in 2004). Years later, BNSF ultimately took delivery of the largest locomotive fleet ever built by GE, with NS trailing close behind.
The GE C44-9W initially served as an initial replacement for the preceding Dash 8 series of locomotives, though the preceding series is what led to the initial success and development of the revolutionary, high-tech, and modern Dash 9. Although externally and mechanically-similar, the Dash 9 had much more improved features and components compared to its predecessor (the original C40-8); over which it introduced a much more reliable braking system, updated electronics, a new alternator; with further resulted in having an increased amount of horsepower and tractive effort (4,400hp instead of only 4,000hp), a larger and improved split-cooling engine radiation system, and an improved truck design, known as the "hi-ad" truck ("hi-aid", or "hi-AD"; "AD" for "adhesion"), which has an enhanced design over previous "Adirondack" or GSC truck models; including special suspension springs or flex-cushion coils (shock springs) for when a locomotive were to travel over a bumpy track or a rough curve or slope, furthermore providing the ability to move more smoothly and add more adhesion to the wheels and axles by further preventing wear and tear, while also providing better wheel-slip control system responses.The locomotive is also considered to be revolutionary because of it being one of the first successful models of standard, high-horsepower, single-engine, road diesel-electric locomotives to be capable of producing over 4,400hp (its predecessor: the C40-8 and its "W" variant having just less; being rated at 4,000-4,125hp), and to include an American Safety Cab, or wide-cab; which has since become the standard cab (or modern conventional cab) for modern American and North American diesel locomotives since the late-1980's and early-1990's (yet, the C40-8W was the first to introduce the first commercially-successful wide-cab, but was simply another version of the original C40-8 rather than being a completely different locomotive model). Besides such qualities that it offered, it unfortunately became one of the last major types of traditional DC-traction diesel locomotives ever produced for the primary locomotive market (besides the more recent ES44DC and SD70M-2). Hence, beginning with the introduction of the AC4400CW (following its rival; the SD70MAC, from EMD), railroads began to transition over to using AC-traction diesels as opposed to DC-traction models due to AC-traction becoming the preferred choice for modern motive power (excluding the more traditional railroads which still preferred DC-traction up until recently; CN for example, who recently became the last North American railroad to convert to using AC-traction diesels). Thus, phasing-out the DC-traction era for mainline road diesels like the ever-lasting "four-axle era", which officially ended for US Class 1 railroads by 1994 with the closure of the GP60's production. On another note, the model also officially marked the breaking point for when GE earned their current status as the "number one locomotive builder" in the world, surpassing EMD even further than their preceding lines.
Many still exist and are currently operating in active general revenue service, yet are slowly in the process of being replaced by GE "Evolution Series" locomotives (primarily the ES44DC; yet the production of the ES44DC has since become a fad for railroads owning traditional DC-traction diesels and now use their AC-traction counter-parts). Roads such as UP have since re-regulated or reassigned their fleets of Dash 9 units to be used as spare units, while others typically haul rock or mineral trains throughout Southeastern Texas. BNSF, NS, and CN however, still utilize them for primary use.
Although discontinued from GE's domestic locomotive catalog in 2005, the model was still available (along with its AC-traction counter-part) for foreign export markets upon request.
"Teething" And Performance IssuesEdit
There were, however, several engine issues involving the pistons and cooling systems of second-generation Dash 9's built during the early 2000's as they were fitted with flawed liquid coolants which used a larger engine coolant system that was deemed to be plagued with issues and failed to thoroughly cool overheating engine pistons and cylinders, further causing fires and engine explosions (the same issues were also involved with later AC4400CW units as well). Hence, GE purchased cooling parts from a more-reliable manufacturing company, developed a much-more reliable cooling system even better than the original from previous Dash 9's, and even opted to replace existing faulty systems by refunding troubled owners.
Because of also being intentionally opted for "conventional power" use like its predecessor (meaning that they were built to serve a simple, "convenient" purpose: haul freight at high-horsepower with low maintenance costs), the Dash 9 unfortunately wasn't built to last nearly as long compared to most average locomotives built by rival EMD. Though, GE has since opted to include improved warranty renewals for when such locomotive warranties were to expire for railroads which owned fleets of Dash 9 units.
Norfolk Southern's Dash 9 units were built under the same traditional premise that they originally held since before the 1982 merger: that a lower power rating would prolong the life of the engine, yet also consume less fuel. There is; however, a manual override switch that allows the engineer to run the engine with all 4,400hp (3,300 kW) if necessary (very much like with the ES40DC; the C40-9W's successor), which is controlled via the on-board microprocessor control system in-place of the traditional layshaft lever.
There are several numerous versions of the C44-9W:
- C40-9W - Norfolk Southern's version of the original Dash 9.
- C40-9 - Standard-cab version of the C40-9W specially built for Norfolk Southern; resembles a C40-8, and is sometimes classed as a "C40-9C" or "Dash 9-40C".
- BB40-9W- Narrow-gauge double or combined four-axled (B-B+B-B) Latin American version (also known as a "BB40-9WM").
- C44-9ACi - AC-traction Australian version of the C44-9CW (also known as the Cv40-9i) developed for UGL Rail. Essentially an export AC4400CW built to GEVO specs carrying a "Dash 9" designation.
- C38EMI - Brazilian version of the original Dash 9 built specially for MRS Logistica in 2007-2008.
- C38ACHE - Chinese version of the original (classified as the NJ2 by Chinese Railways).
- C44-9WL - Canadian-built version with Canadian-cab; built specially for BC Rail (British Columbia Railway) and CN (Canadian National).
- AC44C4M - BNSF C44-9W rebuilt and conversion to what is essentially an ES44C4; basically built to said specifications (the "4" meaning the amount of axles powered).
- AC44C6M - NS C40-9 rebuilt with GEVO auxiliary cab and converted to AC-traction (the "6" meaning "C-C", the "M" meaning "Modified").
Despite having been previously offered in GE's catalog numerous times, a four-axle Dash 9 model was never built. In its place, was the Brazilian specialty variant of the original model: the BB40-9W.
AC44C4M and AC44C6MEdit
As of late-2015, NS has been in the process of rebuilding and converting 16 of their existing exclusive conventional cab C40-9 units into AC-traction "AC44C6M's". The first two units (NS #4000-4001) were assembled at the road's Juniata Shops in Altoona, PA, and are painted in a unique blue, grey, gold, and black scheme bearing a resemblance to the character Sonic the Hedgehog. Thus, earning the nickname, "Sonic Bonnet" among railfans. As of late-2016, at least 5 units have been completed: NS #4000, #4001, #4002, #4004, and #4006. The remainder of the 11 units are expected to be completed at GE's Erie, PA facility by the end of the year (#4002, #4004, and #4006 were assembled at Erie).
On another note, BNSF has currently been in the process of converting their ex-ATSF 600 Series Dash 9's into hybrid ES44C4's (including updated features that the ES44C4 offers; such as its "re-imagined" A1A truck). The first being BNSF #616: an ex-ATSF Dash 9, dubbed as an "AC44C4M" or an "AC44C4", which was assembled at San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
|Length||73' 2"||73' 2"||73' 2"||73' 8"|
|Weight x 1,000 lbs.||410,000||410,000||390-434,000||385,000|
Note*: As of late-2014, all of Norfolk Southern's C40-9W units have been re-rated to having 4,400hp, making them officially C44-9W's as a result of re-configuring the lay shaft switch generating the horsepower output via the on-board microprocessor computer system.
|Production Totals||Approx. 25 (100 to be expected)||Approx. 5 (125 to be expected)|
|Length||73' 2"||73' 2"|
|Axle Configuration||A1A-A1A||C-C (Co' Co')|
|Traction Motors||GEB13 (x4)||GEB13 (x6)|
|Starting Tractive Effort||N/A||200,000 lbs.|
|Continuous Tractive Effort||N/A||166,000 lbs.|
|Max. Speed||75 mph||75 mph|
|Wheel Diameter||N/A||43 Inches|
|Weight x 1,000 lbs.||N/A||432,000 lbs. (nominal)|
|Owner||Road Number(s)||Quantity||Date Built|
|America Latina Logistica (ALL; Brazil)||8300-8306*||7* (BB40-9W)||2012|
|British Columbia Railway (BCR/BCOL)||4645-4654||10||2000|
|British Columbia Railway (BCR/BCOL)||4641-4644*||4* (C44-9WL)||1995|
|Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)||700-799, 960-1123, 4000-4199, 4300-5532||1697||1996-2004|
|Canadian National (CN)||2200-2205, 2523-2726||210||
|Canadian National (CN)||2500-2522*||23* (C44-9WL)||1994|
|Chicago And Northwestern (CNW)||8601-8730||130||1993-1994|
|Estrada de Ferro Carajás (Brazil)||801-867*||67* (C44-9WM)||1997-2008|
|Ferrovia Norte do Brasil (Brazil)||9001-9050*||50* (C44-9WM)||1998-1999|
|Fortescue Metals Group (Australia)||0001-0015||15||2008|
|General Electric Corporation Leasing (GECX)||905||1||2005|
|Hamersley Iron (Australia)||7065-7096||32||1994-2000|
|MRS Logística (Brazil)||3956-3973*||18* (C44MEi)||2008|
|Norfolk Southern (NS)||8764-8888*||125* (C40-9)||1995|
|Norfolk Southern (NS)||8889-9978 (C40-9W)||1,090* (C40-9W)||1996-2004|
|Pilbara Rail (Australia)||7053-7064, 7097-7098, 9404-9409, 9428-9434, 9470-9472||30||2001-2005|
|Quebec, North Shore & Labrador (QNSL)||404-414||11||1998|
|Santa Fe (ATSF; Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe)||600-699||100||1994|
|Southern Pacific (SP)||8100-8200||101||1994|
|Vale Logística Integrada (Brazil)||6020-6034*||15* (BB40-9W)||2012|
|Vitória–Minas Railroad (Brazil)||1113-1309*||197* (BB40-9W)||1997-2011|
|Union Pacific (UP)||9700-9739||40||1994|
- BNSF's Dash 9 roster numbers are listed from 700-799, 960-1123, 4000-4199, and 4300-5532.
- NS' Dash 9 roster numbers are listed from 8889 to 9978.
There is often a confusion regarding the Dash 9, its predecessors, and successors. Though, numerous spotting features or external differences are noted during comparison:
- The trucks or bogies are often confused for a Dash 8, even though they're easy to distinguish because of having a much more modern, safer, and reliable truck design (known as the "hi-aid").
- The radiator section ("fins" or "wings") is noticeably larger than preceding Dash 8 models and units.
- Dash 9's typically have taller exhaust stacks or vents as opposed to C40-8W's.
Standard-cab versions are often confused for wide-cab versions as well. The name of the model is categorized as follows:
- "B" meaning "B-B", which would mean "four-axle" (though, the "B" classification is only used for the BB40-9W).
- "C" meaning "C-C", which would mean "six-axle".
- "W" meaning "wide-cab".
- The horsepower rating is often labeled as "44", hence C44-9W.
Sometimes the model is often referred to as the "CW44-9".
Besides being an "upgrade", GE stuck to using their naming tradition beginning with "Dash" and then an additional number suffix for the decade in which each line was produced. The tradition began in the 1970's as a result of GE's Dash 7 line being a response to EMD's "Dash 2" line of upgraded/improved types and/or models of diesel locomotives (such as the SD40-2 or GP38-2).
BNSF Power ShortagesEditAlthough the BNSF merger was finalized in 1996, the newly-established railroad was still receiving new Dash 9 units a year later in 1997 as part of a back-order that was originally made with the ATSF. Though, it was then decided to fill-in a brief motive power shortage instead; despite still being under ATSF ownership. Hence, the units retained their Dash 9 "Warbonnet" liveries, but didn't receive "Santa Fe" lettering or decals on the sides as a result of GE being informed of the proposed and finalized merger between the BN and ATSF, and were notified that the units were to be placed in immediate service by simply applying their respective numbers rather than delay their arrival by applying now-defunct decals or renumbering the units. Therefore, after fulfilling their duties, the railroad applied and patched the back-order Dash 9 units by coining what are often dubbed as "Fake-bonnets" by railfans: the ATSF "Warbonnet" scheme wearing BNSF decals as opposed to the more iconic, matching ATSF decals (although previous former ATSF units delivered prior to the merger were eventually patched or repainted as a result of having "refurbished" liveries as part of a brief tradition from BNSF as opposed to immediately being repainted into the company's H1 or H3 liveries; as with BNSF's ex-ATSF GP60M's). Some later back-order "Fake-bonnet" units were also patched with said BNSF decals from GE at their Erie facility and were numbered from 4700-4719.
Ironically, a shy year after, BNSF experienced yet another motive power shortage a year later in 1998 as a result of the retirement of older, out-dated, and/or less-reliable diesels in favor of newer, more up-to-date, and high-tech motive power as well as large increases in traffic. Though, the Dash 9 units were instead painted in primer "Heritage 1" (H1) livery, and simply had their numbers applied to their cabs with the company reporting mark or name stenciled below. But once again, after they fulfilled their duties, they received their respective decals. Though this time, they actually received decals as part of what eventually became known as the railroad's "Heritage 2" (H2) livery.
NS also experienced a similar dilemma prior to the end of the model's production in 2003-2004. Though, their last Dash 9 units delivered and received were painted in a basic factory primer grey scheme with the numbers and owner stenciled on the sides of the cab. Once said units fulfilled their purpose, they received their respective liveries.
- The Chicago and Northwestern (CNW), Southern Pacific (SP), and Santa Fe (ATSF) had early Dash 9 units with distinct small "humps" in between the gaps which were originally used for housing roller bearings.
- Oddly, early catalogs marketed the Dash 9 with a 4,390 rating as opposed to a full 4,400hp or gross 4,500hp rating.
- Like their Dash 8 fleets, the ATSF had their Dash 9's built to their own unique specifications to meet clearance restrictions at the York Canyon, NM coal load-out facility in which they served. Many Dash 9 units were also built to said specifications long after the BNSF merger as well: having the distinct notched "gull wing" cab roof, along with the shorter wheelbase.
- Prior to the initial debut of the AC4400CW, the Dash 9 briefly offered a DC-traction variant of the AC radial truck. Though, despite having only proved successful with CSX, KCS, FXE, and CP's AC4400CW fleets, the truck never attracted any other customers whom owned or ordered either locomotive model.
- The Dash 9 line itself, was the first locomotive line built by GE to not include any four-axle types or variants.
- Although planned and designed, a four-axle variant or version of the C44-9W was never built or fully developed (primarily due to four-axle diesel types being less popular with most railroads during the end of the 20th Century).
- BNSF originally experimented with a fleet of AC4400CW units and eventually ordered a somewhat vast fleet to be compatible with their former BN SD70MAC units, but then decided to stick with keeping their existing Dash 9's and ordered their later fleets of SD70MAC's (eventually replaced with SD70ACe's) and GEVO's in-place of their already existing AC4400CW units on coal trains. Their Dash 9's however, have instead been upgraded with more advanced software to provide the ability to invert or convert AC-to-DC traction through their microprocessors (similar to the Union Pacific's fleet of SD70M units) as well as being DPU-compatible, while their remaining AC4400CW's have also been converted and upgraded but still contain their original AC-radiator cabinet covers to house their pure AC-traction components. Said diesels are used as spare units to aid their primary units (being the Dash 9's and GEVO's).
- The Ferronorte railway in Brazil is one of the only other standard gauge railroads or railways in the nation where they don't use the BB40-9W, but rather Dash 9's with Dash 8 trucks and slightly modified cabs (such as the C38EMI; similar to what neighboring nations utilize).
- BNSF Dash 9 #4723 is featured as a drivable locomotive in Microsoft Train Simulator (aside from being seen or featured on the front cover) and the actual Dash 9 has stickers on its cab noting this; aside from Dash 9's also being featured as drivable locomotives in RailWorks 3 and Trainz (as Add-ons).
- Ironically, the SP purchased their fleets of Dash 9's shortly before the AC4400CW's introduction, success, and production; thus, the SP became immediately interested in purchasing the AC-traction counter-part of the DC-traction Dash 9.
- Early SP (Southern Pacific) Dash 9 units were also painted with the "SP" initials separated slightly further away from each other on the front hoods of the actual units to help distinguish them from their fleets of AC4400CW units which were awaiting arrival shortly after their purchase.
- The EMD "Tunnel Motor" series of heavy-duty diesel locomotives with advanced cooling systems actually inspired the Dash 9's cooling system (aside from the Dash 8, the Dash 9's main predecessor).
- BNSF C44-9W #4449 retains an ironic number reminiscent of SP #4449's; to which the unit also assisted #4449 numerous times when BNSF had ownership rights to operate steam excursions with SP #4449.
- BNSF #960 was actually the very first official Dash 9 unit to be painted in the company's first official scheme (being the "Heritage 1" scheme).
- BNSF #999 "Triple Nine" is often notorious amongst railfans (like with CSX #666).
- Only five CNW-painted Dash 9 units exist on the UP's roster. Two in particular (CNW #8701 and CNW #8646), are part of the UP's Hertiage Fleet.
- UP #9700 (the first Dash 9 received by the railroad) retains a special plaque commemorating a safety reward. The unit, however, is currently in a somewhat decrepit shape.
- Norfolk Southern's C40-9W's are often nicknamed as being a "catfish" by some railfans due to the wide, broadened look or appearance of the company scheme on the front of the cab or hood being reminiscent of said animal.