GE Building Greener Locomotives

ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- General Electric Co. said Monday that it has developed a new line of fuel efficient diesel-electric train locomotive that would burn less fuel and provide more power than most of the trains that currently haul cargo and passengers.

GE said the locomotive uses alternating current electric technology, which reduces the amount of fuel it needs by 17 percent compared with the direct current-powered, or DC, locomotives that are commonly used by transportation companies. The locomotive reduces emissions by 70 percent over the DC versions and 600 of the new trains could do the same job as 800 older trains, according to GE.

The new locomotives will be built at GE's manufacturing plants in Erie and Grove City, Pa. The company said it has already delivered 25 of the new engines to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. GE would not say how much the new locomotive costs and the line is not expected to generate any additional jobs at the two locations.

Lorenzo Simonelli, president of GE's transportation division, acknowledged that it was a difficult time to introduce a new product at a time when the economy is contracting and companies have difficulty getting credit for big equipment purchases.

But he proposed a program for locomotives similar to the "cash-for-clunkers" legislation in Congress that would give car owners tax breaks if they traded in older autos for more fuel efficient models.

Shares of GE added 55 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $13.41 in midday trading.

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