The Evolution Series is a line of diesel locomotives built by GE Transportation Systems, initially designed to meet the U.S. EPA’s Tier 2 locomotive emissions standards that took effect in 2005. The first pre-production units were built in 2003. Evolution Series locomotives are equipped with either AC or DC traction motors, depending on the customer’s preference. All are powered by the GE GEVO engine.
The Evolution Series was named as one of the “10 Locomotives That Changed Railroading” by industry publication Trains Magazine. It was the only locomotive introduced after 1972 to be included in that list.
Currently, six different Evolution Series models have been produced for the North American market. They are all six axle locomotives and have the wheel arrangement C-C (AAR classification) or Co’Co’ (UIC classification), except for the ES44C4 which has an A1A-A1A wheel arrangement. All North American Evolution Series locomotives are equipped from the factory with a Nathan-Airchime K5HL-R2 “Evolution” airhorn, and most later models are equipped with a Graham-White 373 (electronic) E-BELL.
The ES40DC (Evolution Series, 4000 HP, DC traction) replaced the Dash 9-40CW model in GE’s range and, like the former model, was delivered exclusively to Norfolk Southern Railway. ES44DC’s owned by CSX Transportation were also given this designation after being de-rated to 4,000 hp (3,000 kW). As of 2014, all of Norfolk Southern’s ES40DCs have been uprated to 4,400 horsepower (3,300 kW), making them ES44DCs.
The ES44DC (Evolution Series, 4400 HP, DC traction) replaces the Dash 9-44CW model in GE’s range. Primary users are BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, and Canadian National Railway. Pilbara Iron in Australia ordered a lengthened, international version designated ES44DCi. The extra length is used for a larger radiator to increase cooling capacity in the Australian outback.
The ES44AC (Evolution Series, 4400 HP, AC traction) replaces the AC4400CW model in GE’s range. These locomotives have been ordered by every Class I railroad in North America: Union Pacific Railroad (who refers to these locomotives as the C45ACCTE), BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, Kansas City Southern de Mexico, Ferromex, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Canadian National Railway. Iowa Interstate Railroad ordered 14 ES44AC’s in April 2008 to be delivered by October 2008 to handle an expected traffic growth of 25%-30%, resulting from new ethanol plants coming on line. Iowa Interstate ordered two additional ES44AC’s to be delivered in December 2009. Iowa Interstate again ordered 3 additional GE ES44AC’s after selling 2 of the railroads EMD SD38-2’s for the new ethanol plants.
CSX began receiving an order of 200 ES44AC’s (referred to by CSX as the ES44AH) in December 2007. The “H” in ES44AH stands for “heavy”, which is in reference to a combination of subsystems that produce high levels of tractive effort at low speeds. In order to be classified as an “AH” by CSX, a locomotive has to have not only an increased nominal weight (currently to 432,000 pounds or 196,000 kilograms), but also (1) steerable trucks, (2) TM3 adhesion control software, (3) software that extends to 33,000 pounds (15,000 kg) from 30,000 pounds (14,000 kg) the maximum amount of tractive effort that each traction motor is permitted to produce, and (4) GE’s Rail Cleaner, which directs high-pressure air onto the rails in front of the sand nozzles forward of axle number one.
In September 2008, Norfolk Southern purchased 24 ES44AC’s numbered 8000-8023, and began receiving the first of these units in October 2008. Ordered to be used on long haul coal trains, they were the first new AC locomotives ever purchased by NS. An additional 65 units were ordered in 2011, numbered 8025-8090. 24 more units, numbered 8091-8115, were ordered at the beginning of 2012. 10 of these units: 8025, 8098-8105 & 8114 were painted in predecessor company “heritage” paint schemes for NS’s 30th anniversary. All NS ES44AC’s are built to CSX specifications, with the exception of the Hi-Ad trucks & headlight placement.
KCS’s units are all painted in a Southern Belle paint scheme.