Updated engines heading to Alaska

A Tenino-based locomotive builder, Global Locomotive, said it has delivered its fifth updated narrow gauge diesel locomotive to the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway in Skagway, Alaska.

A sixth renewed locomotive will be shipped by barge to the tourist line within a week from the Port of Tacoma, said Dave Swanson, the locomotive company president.

The locomotives were repowered with Cummins diesels that raise their horsepower from 940 to 1,450. New electronic controls help improve the locomotives’ tractive effort by up to 30 percent, Swanson said.

White Pass’ narrow gauge fleet was built by General Electric in the 1950s.

The railroad has contracted with Global to bring the locomotives up to modern standards for emissions, power and fuel efficiency.

The railroad is the busiest tourist line in the United States, carrying more than 450,000 passengers each year in the May-through-September season. The tourist trains connect Skagway with Carcross, Yukon, covering 67.5 miles of the original 110-mile route. The route gains nearly 3,000 feet in elevation in 20 miles.

Swanson said the railroad has five more of the unusual locomotives still to refurbish. The next of those may arrive in Tacoma in June.

Global is leasing a Tacoma Rail shop near Tenino as a site for the overhauls. Many of the workers at Global, as well as Swanson, once worked at CEECO’s locomotive repair and overhaul operation on the Tacoma Tideflats. When that operation closed, Global opened in Tenino.

Swanson said Monday that Global may soon announce a new export project for the company.