Coal's Revival and Unit Coal Trains (5 of 5)
At first, Canadian Pacific (CP Rail) used diesel locomotives from the Montreal Locomotive Works on the coal trains. These were replaced in the 1970s with General Motors diesels called SD40-2s of which the railway eventually owned about 500. These locomotives each generated 3000 horsepower.
Most recently, these diesels have been replaced by new locomotives from General Electric. The new GE diesels each produce 4400 horsepower and have advanced alternating-current traction systems which give them immense power. Three of these locomotives can handle a loaded coal train from the mines to the coast and back.
Most of the unit coal trains originating in the Crowsnest are destined for Roberts Bank, but others operate to destinations in the east. Coal from the west is an important commodity for electricity generation plants in central Canada.
Although most of the coal travels north from the Crowsnest to the mainline at Golden, the revival of coal mining in the area and its dependence on the railway for shipment make it a key part of the modern story of the Crowsnest rail route. Just as it was in 1898 coal is still a key to the importance of the Crow Route.