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Norfolk Southern SD70ACe #1070 (Wabash Heritage Unit)
Photo by Jacob Boslet

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l x w x h)



Standard (4'8")

V - E - T - D

The EMD/Progress Rail SD70ACe is a six-axle, 4300- horsepower, AC-traction diesel locomotive which was first introduced in 2004, and has been in production since 2005. The SD70ACe is currently in production as EMD's primary long-haul domestic locomotive.


The EMD SD70ACe was born out of necessity, with EPA Tier 2 regulations off in the distance EMD had to design a new locomotive to meet these standards. The SD70ACe and its variants have sold thousands of domestic and foreign units since 2004.

Although CSX purchased 19 pre-production SD70ACe's, Union Pacific was the model's first production customer, and now rosters 680+ units. BNSF rosters 650 SD70ACe's (20 of which are SD70ACe-P4's). NS, KCS, Montana Rail Link, and Arkansas & Missouri roster SD70ACe's. EMD had a 30 unit SD70ACe order from CN, but the order has been cancelled. CN has since purchased four EMD SD70ACe-P6 units, still adorned in EMDX demonstrator paint. Tacoma Rail began operating two SD70ACe-P4's leased from EMD in 2014.

The EMD SD70ACe is set to change drastically with Tier 4 kicking in in 2015. A report showed that EMD would not have a Tier 4-compliant long haul locomotive until mid-2017.


  • Arkansas and Missouri (QTY:3) #'s 70-72. Ex-EMDX 1201-1203.
  • BNSF: (QTY:650) #'s 8400-8499, 8500-8519 (SD70ACe-P4's), 8520-8599, 8749-8799, and 9000-9399.
  • CN: (QTY:4) #'s 8100-8103 (Ex-EMDX SD70ACe-P6 Demos #1206,1208,1209,1210).
  • CSX: (QTY:20) #'s 4831-4850. These were preproduction SD70ACe's built in 2004.
  • FXE: (QTY:97) #'s 4000-4096.
  • KCS: (QTY:178) #'s 3997-4199. 3997-3999 are ex EMDX Demos; 4060-4099 are KCSM. 
  • MRL (QTY:18) #'s 4300-4315, 4400-4403. 4400-4401 built July 2013; 4402-4403 built December 2013.
  • NS (QTY:175) #'s 1000-1174. 1065-1074 are adorned in NS Heritage paint schemes. (1125-1174 have piping in place to allow for the eventual installation of equipment in order to burn LNG.) 
  • QNS&L (QTY:23) #'s 501-523.
  • Tacoma Rail (QTY:2) #'s 7000-7001 (ex-EMDX #1211-1212 SD70ACe-P4's)
  • UP (QTY:687) #'s 8309-8996. Models after 8823 are designated SD70AH (heavier version SD70ACe).


  • SD70ACe: Regular SD70ACe. (One traction inverter per truck.)
  • SD70ACe-P4: SD70ACe with four powered axles. B1-1B truck arrangement. The two axles nearest to the fuel tank are unpowered. Introduced in 2012 in direct response to GE's ES44C4 model.
  • SD70ACe-P6: SD70ACe with individual axle inverter control; each individual axle powered per truck
  • SD70ACe/45: Broad-gauge, produced by EMD plant in Brazil. It has three radiator fans on top roof since it uses the same carbody of the SD80ACe developed to EMD Canada to Vale mining in Brazil.


Although a successful type of locomotive, the EMD SD70ACe has experienced numerous flaws, primarily with the cab. Despite having a unique design, the actual design often made maintaining the wiring and accessing the microprocessor components difficult for railroad employees at first. BNSF has relegated its 70 non-IsoCab SD70ACe's to trailing unit only status.

The SD70ACe's 16-710 prime mover is unable to meet EPA Tier 4 regulations. EMD is now forced to use a new prime mover in its line-haul locomotives. The new powerplant will not be ready until mid-2017.


The main way of distinguishing an SD70ACe from an SD70M-2 is by box on the left side of each unit, with a SD70ACe having louvered vents - on the SD70M-2, these are plated over. There is no significant difference in external appearance between an SD70ACe and an SD70ACe-P4, except for the missing traction motor on the axle closest to the fuel tank on the P4 model.

IMG 9527 edited

A photo to show one of the main spotting features between an SD70ACe and SD70M-2. Original photo credit: Terry Cantrell.


* Union Pacific and BNSF Railway have the largest fleets of SD70ACe's - UP has 687, while BNSF has 650.

* The SD70ACe was the last type of production diesel locomotive produced by EMD under GM's ownership, and the first under CAT/Progress Rail. 

* The EMD SD70ACe (as well as the actual SD70 Series) was also the last type of diesel locomotive to be built in EMD's LaGrange, Illinois plant, as well as the last to be built in their London, Ontario shops, and the first to be built in EMD's new Muncie, Indiana facility.

* in 2012, EMD introduced the SD70ACe-P4 in direct response to GE's ES44C4. The P4 is a B1-1B model (axles closest to the fuel tank are unpowered).

* As of 2014, BNSF and Tacoma Rail are the only railroads to own SD70ACe-P4's, and CN is the only owner of SD70ACe-P6's.

* Both UP and NS have specially-painted "heritage units" or SD70ACe units which are painted in commemorative schemes which are meant to designate former railroads which they purchased or operate over former trackage. (Such as the NS having trackage over former PRR rails, as well as the UP's purchase of the SP.)

* The locomotive's design was inspired by modern GE freight diesel locomotives. This is evident in the model's radiator "fins" or "wings", a large radiator cabinet placed on one side, and airtanks placed on another. The cab is an updated version of the Phase II cab used on the SD90MAC-H.

* Several foreign versions also exist as well.

* To celebrate the opening of CAT/EMD's Muncie, Indiana facility, EMD painted EMDX #1201; an SD70ACe, in a unique CAT scheme of yellow, black, silver, and chrome.

* The SD70ACe was also the first type of locomotive to use the once-exclusive Nathan K5LLA horn, which is a 1L chime variant of the original K5LA.

* Earlier KCS (Kansas City Southern) SD70ACe units owned by the railroad were painted in the railroad's generic grey with yellow stripes scheme, and were some of the last locomotives on the railroad's roster to be painted in such scheme before the classic or vintage-esque "Belle" scheme was eventually developed (later units were also some of the first to actually receive the "Belle" scheme on their roster as well; ironically).




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