Railserve’s U.S.-Built Green Locomotives Headed to Africa
A shipment of sustainable locomotives built in the United States by Railserve set sail last weekend on a 6,000-mile ocean voyage to Africa where they will soon be in operation as freight locomotives in Gabon.
The Intermarine M/V Ocean Grand departed from Houston with six 220,000-lb. Railserve DUAL LEAF® Gen-Set locomotives—each individually shrink-wrapped—on board. The Ocean Grand is destined for Libreville, Gabon.
The LEAF locomotives were purchased by Société d’Exploitation du Transgabonais (SETRAG), the state railway of Gabon, as part of a long-term modernization of the country’s freight rail operations. The sustainable operating features of the LEAF locomotive were attractive to a country that is committed to climate change mitigation.
The Railserve LEAF uses two Cummins QSX15 gensets to minimize fuel usage and significantly reduce emissions while maintaining the performance of a traditional switching locomotive. The DUAL LEAF is programmed to operate with only one genset under lighter loads, further reducing both fuel use and emissions.
“This is Railserve’s first delivery of LEAF locomotives to a destination outside North America,” said LEAF Program Manager TJ Mahoney. “In addition to its requirement for sustainable operations, SETRAG was looking to modernize its locomotive fleet and have readily available parts for future maintenance needs. The LEAF Locomotive from Railserve met those requirements.”
Railserve successfully modified the standard LEAF locomotive design for operation in Gabon, where specifications are different than those in North America. All cab interface markings and screens are in French. Couplers are SA-3 type—common overseas but not used in North America. They are also a different height than couplers in the U.S. Finally, the plows required slight modifications to fit African gauge requirements. Otherwise, the units are virtually identical to the more than 50 Railserve LEAF locomotives currently operating in the U.S. and Canada.
“It took a cohesive effort—starting with our Railserve team at the manufacturing plant in Longview, Texas, and including the excellent crews from Intermarine and Breakbulk Transportation on the docks in Houston—to get the product ready to ship,” he said. “Once they reach Gabon, Railserve staff will be present to commission the locomotives, and put them in service working with the SETRAG engineers.”
The African locomotives were hauled by rail from Longview, Texas to Houston. In Houston, Breakbulk Transportation handled logistics—including cleaning, packing, and prepping. Then, Intermarine took over the loading onto the Ocean Grand.
“With its box holds and 450-ton cranes, the M/V Ocean Grand is an ideal vessel for the safe handling and carriage of these state-of-the-art locomotives,” said James Jackson, vice president, Africa Services for Intermarine. “We have worked with Railserve to ensure that we could provide the most capable vessel available to meet Railserve’s schedule.”
Intermarine is the global leader in the transport of project, breakbulk, and heavylift cargo. Founded in 1990, the company, through its subsidiaries and worldwide network of 20 offices, controls an international fleet of more than 50 vessels with lifting capacity up to 900 metric tons. Intermarine provides ocean transportation and marine logistics services with regular sailings in the Americas, West Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, plus inducement voyages to Australia and other international ports. The company operates the largest U.S. flag heavylift fleet and controls Industrial Terminals in Houston, Texas, the busiest project cargo terminal in the United States. For more information please visit www.intermarine.com.
About Breakbulk Transportation
Founded in 2004, Breakbulk Transportation, Inc., specializes in moving large and heavy cargo projects. As a smaller company, we focus on fostering long-term client relationships. This strategy has allowed us to build a stellar reputation in the industry and keep clients coming back. President Darron Clay has more than 30 years of experience in the field of international logistics and works with his team on a daily basis to expand the scope of services we can offer to our current and future clients. For information, visit: www.breakbulktransportation.com.
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