Railroad Costs

(Updated 28 March 2013)

Locomotive/Traincar Costs

Baldwin 24 ton 4-4-0 (1860): $9,725 [3]
Baldwin 27 ton 0-8-0 (1860):
$11,331 [3]
Unknown 35 ton 4-4-0 (1870): $10,000 [3]
Baldwin 40 ton 4-4-0 (1885):
$6,695 [3]
Cotton Belt 50 ton “C3” 0-6-0: $7,500 to $8,152 [1]
Cotton Belt “D2” 4-6-0 (1898): $10,860 [1]
Cotton Belt “E2” 4-6-0 (1900): $15,250 [1]
Cotton Belt “G0” 4-6-0 (1913): $21,900 [1]
Baldwin 51 ton 4-4-0 (1905): $9,410 [3]
Baldwin 91 ton 2-8-0 (1905):
$14,500 [3]
NYC 2-8-2 “H-10” (1922): $72,173 (Based on $8.3~ million order for 115 x H-10s) [4]
GE/PRR GG-1 (1934-43):
$250,000~ [2]
NYC 4-8-4 “S-1” Niagara (1945): $240,000 [4]
UP 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” (1941-44) $265,000
EMD FT (1943-45): $125,487~ (based on Cotton Belt paying $2,509,747 for 5 x four unit sets [20 units in total] in 1943-45.) [1]
EMD FT (1942-1944): $500,000~ per four unit set delivered to the B&O [6]
Baldwin 608NA Switcher (1946-47): $92,000~ [1]
Alco PA-1 (1949): $211,600 [1]
EMD F7 (1950-52): $163,670~ (based on Cotton Belt paying $7,037,865 for 43 x F7A and F7B units from 1950-52) [1]
EMD GP30 (1960): $250,000~ (quote is from a Trains article quoted on trainorders.com – LINK)
EMD SDP40F (1973-74): $433,300~ (based off $65~ million cost for purchase of 150 x SDP40Fs by Amtrak) [5]
GE E60C (1973): $692,000 [5]
GE U30C (1975): $350,000~ (quote is from trainorders.com – LINK)
EMD F59PHI (1993): $2.3~ million (based off $20.8 million cost for purchase of the first nine by Caltrans in January 1993) [5]
Bombardier Superliner II (1993): $2.4~ million (based off $340 million cost for purchase of 140 by Amtrak) [5]
Siemens ACS-64 (2010): $6.65~ million (based off $466 million cost for purchase of 70 by Amtrak) (Wikipedia)
Bombardier Viewliner II (2010): $2.29~ million (based off $298.1 million cost for purchase of 130 by Amtrak) (Wikipedia)

Notes: Apparently back in the early 1970s it was said that new locomotives cost roughly a dollar a pound, and that this was roughly the price of the GP9s when they were brand new in the 1950s. (trainorders.com – LINK)

References:
Cotton Belt Locomotives by Joseph A. Strapac [1]
The Streamline Era by Robert C. Reed [2]
A History of the American Locomotive: It’s Development, 1830-1880 by John H. White [3]
Super Steam Locomotives by Brian Solomon [4]
Amtrak by Brian Solomon [5]
Electro-Motive E Units and F-Units: The Illustrated History of... by Brian Solomon [6]

Energy Content of Fuel

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG): 30,100 BTU/Gallon
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG):
73,100 BTU/Gallon
No. 2 Diesel Fuel:
128,100 BTU/Gallon

References:
An Evaluation of Natural Gas Fueled Locomotives, November 2007 (1.5~ MB PDF)

Overall Thermal Efficiencies:

Average Steam Locomotive (19th C): 4% or less [3]
Average Steam Locomotive (1948): 5% [1]
Modern Steam Locomotive (1953): 7 to 7.5% [2]
Ultra-Modern Steam Locomotive (1980 ACE 3000): 15%~ [5]
Coal Burning Gas Turbine-Electric: 20~% [1]
Kerosene-Burning Gas Turbine-Electric: 25~% [1]
Diesel-Electric: 37~% [1]
Ideal LH2/LOX Fuel Cell: 83~% [4]

Notes: An efficiency of 6% means that for every 100 BTUs of fuel burned, about 6 BTUs of horsepower is produced, basically.

References:
Popular Science, November 1948 [1]
Popular Mechanics, September 1953 [2]
Out of Steam: Dieselization and American Railroad, 1920-1960 by Jeffrey W. Schramm [3]
Fuel Cell Technology Handbook, 7th Edition by EG&G Technical Services, November 2004 [4]
The Ultimate Steam Page: The ACE 3000 (LINK) [5]

Overall Availability Rates:

Steam: 33% [2] to 45% average [1]
Diesel-Electric: 90-95% average [1]

Notes: In 1941, the Santa Fe’s crack Chicago-Los Angeles steam freight run required a complete engine replacement at each division/section, or roughly every 200 miles, in addition to the regular fuel and water stops. By contrast, the early FT units they had were able to make the entire run with only three stops for fuel. Overall this meant a complete run time of 112~ hours by steam and less than 90 hours by diesel. [2]

On that note, the entire term “jerkwater town” comes from from the jerking of a water tower’s waterspout down to water a locomotive, because usually the entire reason for the town’s existence was to act as a refueling/water-stop for locomotives. [3]

References:
The American Diesel Locomotive by Brian Solomon [1]
Popular Science, May 1941 [2]
Out of Steam: Dieselization and American Railroad, 1920-1960 by Jeffrey W. Schramm [3]

Locomotive Duty Cycles

Switchers: 140~ gallons/fuel/day, up to 50,000 gallons annually [1]
Intrastate Passenger Locomotives: 200,000 – 300,000 gallons annually [1]
Intrastate Freight Helper/Short Haul Locomotives: 50-150,000 gallons annually [1]
Intrastate Freight Line Haul Locomotives: 1,000 gallons/fuel/day, up to 500,000> or more gallons annually. [1]

EPA Duty Cycles [3]

Throttle Setting

Line-Haul Cycle

Switch Cycle

8

16.2%

0.8%

7

3%

0.2%

6

3.9%

1.5%

5

3.8%

3.6%

4

4.4%

3.6%

3

5.2%

5.8%

2

6.5%

12.3%

1

6.5%

12.4%

Idle

19%

29.9%

Low Idle

19%

29.9%

Dynamic
Brake

12.5%

0.0%

Notes: Immediately after World War II, the NYC’s new 4-8-4 “S-1” Niagaras averaged 862 miles a day and more than 26,000 miles each month. [4] By 1954, the average duty cycle for daily operations for diesels was 200 hours of full power (Notch 8) operation each month. [2].

Today in 2009, the EPA freight locomotive duty cycle as of 2009 assumes line haul locomotives idle about 40 percent of the time. Beyond this, the duty cycle assumes assumes line haul locomotives primarily operate in the higher locomotive power (notch) settings (i.e., Notch 5-8) for the rest of the operating cycle. [1]

References:
Technical Evaluation of Options to Reduce Locomotive and Railyard Emissions, 2009; Part III, Locomotive Options (358 kb PDF) [1]
What Will the Atomic Locomotive Be Like?” Railway Age, 14 June 1954 [2]
Evaluation of Biodiesel Fuel in an EMD GP38-2 Locomotive, May 2004 (2~ MB PDF) [3]
American Steam Locomotive by Brian Solomon [4]

Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” Fuel Consumption

Notes: During tests on 3 April 1943 on the Wasatch grade, engine #4016 produced 7,157 hp at the cylinders (6,290 hp at the drawbar), pulling 3,883 tons at 41.1 MPH. Fuel consumption was 9,980 US gallons of water per hour and 19,320 lbs of coal per hour, or in more specific terms:

2.699 horsepower/lb/hr of coal
1.394 horsepower/gallon/hr of water

Due to the Big Boys’ tender carrying 56,000 lbs of coal and 25,000 US gallons of water; a Big Boy at full power would have a range of approximately 2.5 hours (water) to 2.89 hours (coal) before it had to replenish its stores.

Reference:
Big Boy by William W. Kratville

Fuel Consumption, Diesels – 1925-2024

Early Notes: Due to data not being available for some early units like the EMD FT/F2/F3 series, or the ALCO Boxcabs; I’ve chosen to linearly extrapolate the last known data backwards to provide a crude rule of thumb. I’ve also extrapolated forward to about 2024, since about that time; I think the heavy railroad diesel engine will have reached it’s ultimate form, and alternative technologies such as fuel cells will start to take over.

1925-1930: 13.31 hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)
1931-1936: 14.04 hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)
1937-1942: 14.77 hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)
1943-1948: 15.49 hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)

1949-1955:
16.15 hp/gallon/hr
1960-1965: 17.975 hp/gallon/hr
1966-1971: 18.475 hp/gallon/hr
1972-1977: 18.9 hp/gallon/hr
1978-1983: 19.2 hp/gallon/hr
1984-1989: 20.525 hp/gallon/hr
1990-1995: 20.88 hp/gallon/hr
1996-2001: 21.93 hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)
2001-2006: 22.99 hp/gallon/hr
2007-2012: 23.27 hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)
2013-2018: 24~ hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)
2019-2024: 24.73 hp/gallon/hr (Linear Extrapolation)

Notes: The raw data that this table is based upon is available HERE (in xlsx format). It’s pretty much based on A.A. Krug’s Railroad Facts and Figures (LINK), cleaned up with the addition of model year, and type of engine used in that locomotive.

1949 GE-Alco Gas Turbine #101 / UP #50

Notch Setting

Delivered HP

Gallons
per
Hour

Gal/hp/hr

8

4500

550

8.18

Notes: Based on line in magazine saying: “Two tanks for fuel are built into cab underframe; hold 6,600 gallons, enough for 12 hours.” I assume that the 12 hours’ of operation is at notch 8. The gas turbine generates 4,800 hp, but 300 of this goes to auxiliaries, leaving 4,500 hp for the generator. This turbine’s thermal efficiency was only 17%.

References:
Popular Science, July 1949

1954 Union Pacific Locomotive Running Costs

Steam: $145.14 per 1,000 gross ton-miles
Diesel: $84.03 per 1,000 gross ton-miles
Gas Turbine: $69.19 per 1,000 gross ton-miles

Notes: In order to achieve this low figure costwise, the Gas Turbines had to be running near continuously at maximum load. Around this time, the Gas turbines were averaging 8,000 miles and 400 hours per month, with a 78-80% availability rate.

References:
Serves All The West: A History of Union Pacific Dieselization, 1934-1982 by Don Strack (LINK)

SD-40 Fuel Consumption Table(s)

FRA-ORD-76-136 “Fuel Efficiency Improvement in Rail Freight Transportation”
by J.N. Cetenich; December 1975

Management of Train Operations and Train Handling, Air Brake Association, 1972 referenced at A.A. Krug’s Website (LINK)

Notch Setting

Delivered HP

Gallons
per
Hour

Gal/hp/hr

Notch Setting

Gallons
per
Hour

Gal/hp/hr

8

3100

168

18.45

8

168

18.45

7

2550

146

17.47

7

146

17.47

6

2000

108

18.52

6

108

18.52

5

1450

79

18.35

5

79

18.35

4

950

57

16.67

4

57

16.67

3

500

41

12.2

3

41

12.2

2

200

25

8

2

25

8

1

58

7.5

7.73

1

7.5

7.73

Idle

0

5.5

0

Idle

Unknown

Unknown

Dynamic
Brake

0

25

0

Dynamic
Brake

Unknown

Unknown

Reference:

GP-38-2 / GP-40-2 Fuel Consumption Table

Notch Setting

GP38-2
(Naturally Aspirated
EMD 16-645E)

GP40-2
(Turbocharged
EMD 16-645E3)

Delivered Traction HP

Gallons
per Hour

Gal/THP/hr

Delivered Traction HP

Gallons
per Hour

Gal/THP/hr

8

2004

123.03

16.29

3074

168.28

18.27

7

1764

103.29

17.08

2595

141.19

18.38

6

1438

82.48

17.43

1939

105.72

18.34

5

1143

64.18

17.81

1447

79.41

18.22

4

854

47.56

17.95

1004

56.17

17.87

3

573

32.81

17.46

659

38.15

17.27

2

278

17.85

15.58

371

23.13

16.04

1

83

7.81

10.63

81

8.59

9.43

idle

0

4.44

0

0

5.05

0

Notes: This is intended to show the difference between two mostly functionally identical locomotives, one with turbocharging, the other without. Also note use of Traction Horsepower (THP) instead of Brake Horsepower (BHP).

Reference:
Trains Website, “Diesel MPG” (LINK) (PNG of Post in Question)