State to buy 20 commuter-rail locomotives from company it once spurned

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will spend $115 million for new diesel locomotives for the MBTA system, with delivery starting in 2013.

The engines will be cleaner, cost less to operate and be more reliable than the 20 antiquated diesels they'll replace, MassDOT says.

The state is buying the diesels from Motive Power of Boise, Idaho. In 2008, the MBTA agreed to buy up to 28 diesels from a Spanish company, but under pressure from Idaho politicians, the Federal Railroad Administration spiked the deal saying a plan to first build two prototype diesels violated a "buy American" law.

In addition to the Idaho locomotives, the T is acquiring at least two new diesels from Utah. The T currently has 80 commuter-rail diesels, many at or past their original anticipated retirement dates.

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    Two Tier or not Two Tier

    Well, the deal to buy/lease the locomotives from Utah is not a done deal. Newspapers in that region are suggesting that UTA may not go for the deal, which is meant to be interim only.

    The new MP-series locomotives won't reach Boston till 2013 at the earliest.

    Also the press write up touts that these will make newer "Tier 3" emissions standards. Yet Motive Power's web site (a division of Wabtec) only offers write ups on their existing Tier 2 qualified units. The Tier 3 potential is there but is "under development."

    The other US locomotive manufacturer, EMD, was recently purchased by Caterpillar (sp?)