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Diesel locomotive first uses

In 1917, GE produced an experimental Diesel-electric locomotive using Lemp's control design, the first known to be built in the United States.

Following this development, the 1923 Kaufman Act banned steam locomotives from New York City because of severe pollution problems. The response to this law was to electrify high-traffic rail lines. However, electrification was uneconomical to apply to lower-traffic areas.

In the mid 1920s, Baldwin Locomotive Works produced a prototype Diesel-electric locomotive for "special uses" for example runs where water for steam locomotives was scarce, using electrical equipment from Westinghouse Electric Company.

Industry sources were beginning to see the outstanding advantages of this new form of motive power. In 1929, the Canadian National Railway became the first North American railway to use diesels in mainline service with 2 units, 9000 and 9001, from Westinghouse.

The first regular service of Diesel-electric locomotives was in switching applications. General Electric produced several small switching locomotives in the 1930s.

Diesel locomotive and diesel-electric railroad locomotion entered the mainstream when the Burlington Railroad and Union Pacific used Diesel streamliners to haul passengers.

Following the successful 1939 tour of General Motors demonstrator freight locomotive set, the transition from steam to Diesel power began, the pace substantially quickening in the years following the close of World War II. Continue reading about the diesel locomotive


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