BioEditThe EMD, Electro Motive Division, SD80MAC is a type of high-powered, six-axle, 5,000hp AC-traction diesel locomotive built from 1995 to 1997.
Only 30 were built specially for Conrail, and still exist on CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS) and are used as spare units. (CSX purchased 12, while NS purchased 18 of these units.)
They are considered to be somewhat rare, since they're only used on certain trains or as spare units, and can only be seen in certain areas on the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad systems.
After the initial success of the SD70MAC in 1994; one of the very first major types of single-engined AC-traction diesel locomotives produced for the North American locomotive market; EMD decided to avoid losing the competition with GE's dominate and ever-popular and dominating AC4400CW by introducing the SD90MAC and the externally-similar; yet much more successful and reliable; SD80MAC.
The SD80MAC was one of the first AC-traction diesel locomotives to have its own unique design (aside from its counter-part), have high-tech microprocessor and digital controls, a V20 engine, self-steering axles on flexible trucks, and to be the very first ever (and one of the only) AC-traction diesel locomotives owned by Conrail, and was also originally meant to be compatible with the MK5000C (a type of rebuilt diesel locomotive built by Morrison-Knudsen Industries before being purchased and renamed into MotivePower), as well as with the original SD70MAC. EMD even proved that 2 SD80MAC's alone can replace a trio of GE's AC4400CW's because of having a higher horsepower rating of 5,000hp as opposed to 4,400hp; aside from 3 SD70MAC's replacing 5 SD40-2's. They were used on Conrail's long and heavy coal trains through their Allegheny Mountain routes in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and New York. (Since the purchase of Conrail by CSX and NS in 1999, they have been used as spare units.)
The EMD SD80MAC was successful, yet didn't receive many orders because it was more expensive because of its weight and controls were much different, and had less horsepower than its counter-part; aside from GE's AC6000CW, to whom railroads preferred having 6,000hp AC-traction diesel locomotives as opposed to having only 5,000hp; including the AC4400CW being more affordable.
Conrail was the only customer to officially order the SD80MAC; yet the Chicago And Northwestern (CNW) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railroads originally intended on ordering units, but because of the UP's purchase of the CNW in 1995 and the demonstrations of SD90MAC's on CP being more successful; the orders were cancelled, and thus Conrail remained the only customer to fulfill their purchase.
The SD80MAC shouldn't be confused for the SD90MAC, mainly because of it being much longer than the SD90MAC (mainly to house its V20 processsor components) as well as the simple fact that UP and CP own SD90MAC units (aside from CEFX and CITX owning fleets of former CP units), while CSX and NS own SD80MAC units from Conrail heritage.
Most of the employees of Conrail originally weren't quite sure how to distinguish or even operate the SD80MAC because of it being completely different from their other locomotives. Thus, special tutorials were often given to help them avoid such issues (as seen in the video source). Like the SD90MAC, SD70MAC, and SD60MAC; the SD80MAC is often nicknamed "Mac" by most railfans, as well as being pronounced as SD80 "Mac".
They were also known by railfans as the "Middle Mac"; having 5,000hp in between the SD70MAC having 4,300hp and the SD90MAC having 6,000hp. (From greatest to least.) Conrail's fleet of EMD SD80MAC's (aside from their fleet of SD70MAC's) were also painted in an exclusive scheme to distinguish them from other units.
CSX designates the SD80MAC as simply the "SD80AC" because of it being a one-of-a-kind locomotive on their roster.
Most railfans and crews originally were puzzled by the way the SD80MAC looked, and thought it was originally an SD90MAC, as well as being DC-powered. Yet, special banners or bold red lettering with "Radial-AC" slogans placed under the numbers helped identify the units better.
One CSX SD80MAC humorously fell into the turntable well at the CSX Cumberland Shops facility due to slipping on sand while the brakes were released during inspection.
They are often considered to be Conrail's "Cadillacs" because of them being the last type of locomotive purchased by the railroad.
The last Conrail-painted units were repainted back in 2009. Since then, Conrail-painted SD80MAC's no longer exist on CSX or Norfolk Southern's roster.
Once CSX finished repainting their fleet of SD80MAC's, they were eventually renumbered from their original "800 series" number fleet.
As of early 2012, the SD89MAC prototype was developed into a new type of EMD diesel locomotive; the EMD SD80ACe, which is practically a combination of the original SD80MAC, the SD89MAC, and the SD70ACe. It is currently in production for export in Brazil, yet EMD has yet to demonstrate the SD80ACe for North American Class 1 railroads.
CSX #4590 (formally #800) was painted with exclusive "Spirit of Benning" lettering as being part of the "Spirit Of" or "Spirit" units.
Ironically, NS left the original "Radial-AC" slogans from Conrail, while CSX left their original marker lights which were once commonly used from Conrail.
CSX originally repainted their first half of SD80MAC's with their YN2 scheme, but once their YN3 scheme was introduced, they eventually repainted all of their units in the actual scheme.
All, but one of the original 5 SD80MAC units (with one unit; EMDX #8001 not receiving a full livery) were originally painted red with white lettering when they were EMD demonstrators before eventually being purchased by Conrail.