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Brazil increases its fleet of eight-axle diesel locomotives by Wabtec

15 March 2023
Reading time ~ 3 min
Wabtec ES43BBI eight-axle locomotives
Wabtec's ES43BBI eight-axle locomotives. Source:
Ivolgina Anna, Editorial Contributor to International Projects, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency
Reading time ~ 3 min
Stolchnev Alexey, Russian Projects Editor, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

Brazil: The US producer has signed with the VLI logistics company a contract worth 200 mln BRL ($38.4 mln) to supply 9 ES43BBI diesel locomotives of the Evolution family. The vehicles are designed for 1,000 mm narrow-gauge lines, which cover more than 80% of the country’s railway network. The first deliveries are expected to start in about 1.5 years.

The ES43BBI diesel locomotive was developed specifically for Brazil in 2014 by GE Transportation, later acquired by Wabtec. It features four double-axle bogies (Bo-Bo-Bo-Bo wheel arrangement) with individual axle control and a 3,300 kW V12 diesel engine. The locomotive is also fitted with an advanced traction motor cooling system, which Wabtec claims improves fuel efficiency and reduces wear of components. To date, more than 50 locomotives of this model are in operation in the country.

Wabtec has been present on the Brazilian market for over 60 years, having supplied over 1,800 locomotives. The company owns in the country two production sites in Campinas and Contagem, as well as an innovation centre in Juiz de Fora. Late last year, Wabtec also purchased in Brazil the Super Metal specializing in the manufacturing of rolling stock and equipment for the track maintenance.

Eight-axle locomotives were mainly produced in the US and UK during the 1960s and 1970s. They were most widespread on the American market. Under specifications of Union Pacific, one of the largest freight operators in the country, the DD35A (American EMD built 42 such locomotives in 1962-67), DD40X Centennial (EMD built 47 units in 1969-71) and U50C (GE Transportation built 40 such vehicles in 1969-71) eight-axle models were developed. In its turn, English Electric and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns did the manufacturing of eight-axle Class 40 locomotives in Great Britain. 200 such locomotives were produced there between 1958 and 1962.

Development of eight-axle locomotives was also underway in the Soviet Union. The main model is the shunting locomotive of the TEM7 large series platform, created at the Lyudinovo Diesel Locomotive Plant (LTZ, now part of Sinara – Transport Machines, STM). It has an articulated two-axle bogies design, and became the basis for further STM locomotives – the TEM14 shunter, the TE8 mainline vehicle, and the GT1h gas turbine locomotive. Currently, STM is developing an eight-axle 2TE35A mainline diesel locomotive. As VNIKTI, an R&D centre of Russian Railways, previously pointed out, the design of the running gear is expected to include four-axle bogies (Do-Do wheel arrangement). In 2021, the STM press service told Railway Equipment Journal that such a bogie would enable to increase smooth running, increase the life of the wheelsets and reduce the wear of the track.