Freightliner Squashes Up!

29 November 2007

Freightliner has placed an order for 30 new state-of-the-art locos, including air-conditioned cabs – and has detailed progress on the improvements it is making to cabs in its existing 66 cabs. The company’s Production Director has assured Keith Norman that it is ‘more than happy to involve ASLEF as much as possible in the ergonomics of any new cab design’.


‘I am delighted,’ said Keith. ‘Freightliner has responded in a positive way to the concerns the union has raised in our Squash campaign – which called for radically improved cab conditions that are safe, healthy and modern.’


The company has ordered 30 locomotives from American firm GE Transportation Systems which is making its first foray into the UK market dominated by EMD. The new GE design will offer lower emissions as well as AC traction and rheostatic braking making it, according to the company, '10% more efficient than previous locos'. Freightliner says the new locos will not only improve the carbon footprint but will be able to move more payload per train than ever before'.


It points out that ASLEF has ‘singled out the Class 66 cab environment as being particularly poor in terms of noise, vibration and ride comfort’ and is confident that the new – Genesis – fleet will ‘bring new standards of comfort to freight train drivers', with air-conditioning fitted as standard. Full consultation with the union is guaranteed.


As far as existing 66 locos are concerned, the company has promised improvements in three areas – seats, blind and air cooling.


On cab of Heavy Haul (66584() has been fitted with air suspension seats, a feature that will be fitted to the other 66584 cab and a loco from the Intermodal fleet in the near future. There has been a delay because of a design issue with the plinth.


New blinds will be fitted to the two locos with the new seats for trials and feedback.


An air cooling system has been bench-tested for tier one locos, but there is still a design issue for the tier twos. The Group has assured the union that regardless of progress on the tier twos, the new cooling system will be fitted to a Tier one loco for trials in the early summer.


‘We have to accept that the time scales for change cannot be delivered as soon as our members would like,’ Keith Norman says. ‘But Freightliner have shown themselves committed to improvements in cab conditions and has pledged itself to genuine consultation as this is developed.


‘Freightliner has shown the way. We will be looking to other freight companies to match these initiatives.’

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