Panama Canal Modernizes Locomotive Fleet

Thursday, September 18, 2003
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has purchased an additional 34 locomotives from the Mitsubishi Corporation – part of the Canal’s permanent modernization program. The ACP has been upgrading its locomotive fleet in a multi-year contract with Mitsubishi for the past several years. The contract entitles the ACP to exercise unique options, particularly notable to this purchase is that the assembly of 16 of the 34 locomotives will be performed in Panama by Mitsubishi and ACP employees. Rarely done by Mitsubishi, the assembly in Panama will provide ACP employees with a transfer of skills and new opportunities for training and technology education. Since the handover, the ACP has been committed to modernizing its locomotive fleet, an essential component for safe, reliable and efficient transits. The locomotives run on tow tracks along the lock walls and are used to keep ships centered in the lock chambers through cables attached to the vessels as they pass through the Canal’s locks. The locomotives to be assembled in Panama have 50 percent more towing power and have a much faster return speed than previous models; this will help reduce the time vessels spend transiting the locks. Each locomotive weighs 55 tons, operates with two 290 HP traction units and has a towing capacity of 311.8 kilonewtons. The assembly of the locomotives will begin in June 2004. The ACP, through its ISO 9001-certified Department of Maritime Operations, will replace the entire fleet of locomotives over the next three years. “Our partnership with Mitsubishi is a win-win arrangement. These locomotives will help make Canal transits safer and more efficient – and assembling them in Panama will not only prove to be cost effective, but it will also allow ACP employees to develop special skills that will prove useful in promoting effective maintenance practices of the locomotive fleet,” said Jorge L. Quijano, Canal Director of Maritime Operations.

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