Where diesels are born (or reborn)
Wabtec’s Fort Worth plant
Freshly painted, remanufactured locomotives of Norfolk Southern and Canadian National await delivery outside Wabtec’s Fort Worth, Texas, plant in October 2022. All photos, David Lassen
FORT WORTH, Texas — In October 2022, following my attendance at the Railway Supply Institute Expo and Technical Conference, I also had a chance to visit Wabtec’s locomotive assembly plant in Fort Worth. My visit happened to fall on the day Canadian National accepted the first of a series of 50 remanufactured AC44C6M locomotives [see
“Canadian National receives first diesel …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 17, 2022], but before that brief ceremony, I had a chance to take a tour of the facility. Here are a few photos.
This model of the facility is used to review how the manufacturing process is structured. It apparently came in quite useful when the Fort Worth plant had to modify its processes to go from building new locomotives to remanufacturing.
There’s something impressive about seeing large quantities of very large parts awaiting use, whether they are prime movers …
… or trucks.
In Wabtec parlance, a “cab” is a subassembly, so a “cab assembly” could involve electrical systems, or engines, or a number of things. This just happens to be a cab for, well, cabs.
Speaking of cabs, here’s one being moved into position in the final assembly area. Our tour was rerouted slightly around this move; understandably, no one wants visitors walking under a locomotive cab suspended in midair.
Here’s the final assembly area. As the chalked lettering on the nose indicates, this is a Union Pacific unit. That was obvious even without the chalk because of the yellow paint visible on some portions of the locomotive — the remanufactured diesels go to the railroad that provided the core for the rebuild.
UP, Norfolk Southern, and Canadian National units were being rebuilt during our visit. Here’s an NS unit in one of the paint booths.
Almost all the locomotives built in Fort Worth have been for North America. The exceptions have been for Australia, as with this unit for Fortescue Metals Group, awaiting the start of its journey to mining-railroad service in the harsh environs of Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Modifications include extra-beefy radiators.