In anticipation of retiring all but 10 of its ALCO locomotives, the short line decided it was time to invest in more units for its fleet.
A&M picked up its three new EMD locomotives — Nos. 70, 71 and 72 — Sept. 11 in Monett. The locomotive engineers and conductors who operate them say it's an honor and a privilege.
"They've got plenty of power to move what we need to move," said Bill Wheeler, Conductor/Locomotive Engineer with 23 years of service. "Our speed doesn't drop on the hills like it used to when we pull bigger trains. A couple of these can do what six or seven ALCOs can do."
He explained that is to be expected. Horsepower of A&M's ALCO locomo-tives is 2,000, and the EMD units' horse-power is 4,300.
Dan Drenner, Conductor and two-year A&M employee, also appreciates the new locomotives.
"They're efficient and more relaxing to run," he said. "They make our job easier."
Even Transportation Department employees who have not yet run the new locomotives are singing their praises. Kevin Hallmark, Conductor/Locomotive Engineer, for example, knows the three new units have been a big help.
"They allow us to move more freight in less time," said the nine-year employee. "Everybody is happy they're here."
There are more benefits than just how much weight these locomotives can pull and at what velocity. Wheeler said they are more comfortable and ride more quietly.
"Everything works on them; they're not drafty and you can talk across the cab to one another without shouting," he said. "Basically, they're big and shiny, and we like running them."