The General Electric C44-9CW (C44-9W, Dash 9-44CW, or simply Dash 9), is a type of 4,400hp six-axle diesel locomotive (though eventually classified as a series as a result of numerous versions built later on after introduction) built from 1993 to 2004.
The Dash 9 had many improvements over the Dash 8, one to mention a split cooling system.
Its A.C traction counter-part, is the AC4400CW.
Many were built (close to about 3,500), and are still currently in service on most US and North American Class 1 railroads (while BNSF and Norfolk Southern have the two largest fleets of Dash 9 units).
The GE C44-9CW initially served as a replacement for the previous Dash 8 series or line of locomotives, yet the proceeding series is what led to the initial success and development of the revolutionary Dash 9. Although similar, the Dash 9 had many more improved features and components compared to its predecessor or counter-part (the original C40-8); it introduced a much more reliable braking system as well as a better truck or axle design known as "hi-aid", which has steerable functionalities (very much like with EMD's SD70 series, the SD80MAC, and SD90MAC; though, not self-steering like the AC4400CW's "steerable" style) as well as special suspension springs for when a locomotive were to travel over a bumpy track or a rough curve or slope; thus actually providing the ability to move more smoothly.
The locomotive is also considered to be revolutionary because of it being one of the first standard, high-horsepower, single-engined, diesel locomotives to have 4,400hp (aside from its predecessor: the C40-8), a large engine cooling system, and to include an American Safety Cab, or wide-cab; which has since become the standard cab for modern American and North American diesel locomotives since the late-1980's from early-1990's. (Yet, the C40-8W was the first to introduce the wide-cab, but was simply another version of the C40-8 rather than being a completely different locomotive.)
BNSF Railway (after the merger in 1995-1996), Norfolk Southern, Santa Fe (ATSF; shortly before the BNSF merger) Southern Pacific (SP), Union Pacific (UP), and the Chicago and Northwestern (CNW) were among the primary railroad customers to purchase the Dash 9, which boosted GE's locomotive sales dominating over EMD during the 1990's.
Many exist and are currently in operating service, yet are slowly in the process of being replaced by GE "Evolution Series" locomotives (primarily the ES44AC; yet has since become a fad for railroads).
7/2015: NS has begun the process of rebuilding its Dash 9 fleets from DC to AC traction. Two C40-9's (#8879 and 8799) have been shipped to American Motive Power (under the direction of GE) for conversion. #8879 is now complete an being shipped to Altoona for paint. These former standard cab units have had a new GE wide cab fitted to them. These units resemble production AC4400CW's from the outside. Also : a C44-9W, #8900, has been shipped to CAF USA for upgrading. It appears NS is testing several different companies' upgrade packages, before the program kicks into full gear. See the NSDash9 Facebook page for images of #8879.
See here for #8879: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NSDash9com/161989688842
10/2018: All standard cab C40-9 models on Norfolk Southern have been retired and placed in the AC44C6M rebuild program.
There were; however, several engine issues involving the pistons and cooling systems of second-generation Dash 9's as they were fitted with larger engine coolers which were often faulty, and failed to cool overheating engine pistons and cylinders causing fires and engine explosions. Hence, GE purchasing cooling parts from a more-reliable manufacturing company, and developing a much-more reliable cooling system even better than the original from earlier Dash 9's. (The same issues were involved with later Dash 8's, AC4400CW's, and AC6000CW units as well.)
Because of also intentionally opted for "conventional power" use like its predecessor (meaning that they were built to serve a simple, "convenient" purpose: haul freight at high-horsepower with low maintenance costs), it unfortunately wasn't built to last nearly as long compared to most average locomotives built by EMD; yet GE has since opted to include improved warranty renewals for when such locomotive warranties were to expire for railroads which owned fleets of Dash 9 units. (Yet, such warranties are planned to be replaced as a result of GE's ever-popular "Evolution Series" replacing most earlier six-axle "conventional power" units).
Although successful, Norfolk Southerns Dash 9 units were built under the same premise that a lower power rating would prolong the life of the engine, and use less fuel. There is; however, a manual override switch that allows the engineer to run the engine with all 4,400hp (3,300 kW) if necessary (very much like with the ES40DC; the C40-9W's successor).
There are several versions of the C44-9CW:
- C40-9 - Standard-cab, version of the actual wide-cab C44-9CW, and has lower horse power (4,000hp); specially built for Norfolk Southern; somewhat resembles a C40-8. As of October 2018, all are retired and will be/have been rebuilt as AC44C6Ms.
- C40-9W - Norfolk Southern's version of the C44-9W, rated at 4,000 hp.
- BB40-9W- Narrow-gauge double or combined four-axled (B-B+B-B) Latin American version.
- C44-9ACi - AC-traction Australian version of the C44-9CW (also known as the Cv40-9i).
- C38EMI - Brazilian version of the original Dash 9 built specially for MRS Logistica in 2007-2008.
- China Railways NJ2 (GE serial C38AChe) - Chinese cowl-bodied and uprated C44-9W for use in high altitudes on the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Uprated engine produces 5100hp.
There is often a confusion between each version of the Dash 8 and Dash 9 series of locomotives:
- The trucks or bogies are often confused for a Dash 8, even though they're easy to distinguish because of having a much more "boxy" design (known as the "hi-aid").
Standard-cab versions are often confused for wide-cab versions as well:
- "B" meaning "B-B", which would mean "four-axle" (though, the "B" classification is only used for the BB40-9W).
- "C" meaning "C-C", which would mean "six-axle".
- "W" meaning "wide-cab".
- The horsepower rating is often labeled as "44", hence C44-9CW.
- BNSF's Dash 9 roster numbers are listed from 700-799, 960-1123, 4000-4199, and 4300-5532.
- NS' Dash 9 roster numbers are listed from 8889 to 9978.
- Besides being an "upgrade", GE stuck to using taditional nicknames beginning with "Dash" and then an additional number. The tradition began as a result of GE's Dash 7 line being a response to EMD's "Dash 2" line of upgraded/improved types of diesel locomotives (such as the SD40-2 or GP38-2).
- The Dash 9 line itself, was the first locomotive line built by GE to not include any four-axle types or variants.
- Although planned and designed, a four-axle variant or version of the C44-9W was never built or fully developed (primarily due to four-axle diesel types being less popular with most railroads during the end of the 20th Century).
- Because of the FRA's "Safety Cab" requirements during the "Safety" campaigns from 1988 to around 1993, NS was forced to have their fleets of exclusive, standard-cab C40-9 units be re-ordered into C40-9W units instead. Thus, the development of the exclusive standard-cab variant (the C40-9) ordered by NS ceased production, and was ultimately replaced with its wide-cab counter-part beginning in 1993 (with final orders received in 2004).
- BNSF originally experimented with a fleet of AC4400CW units and eventually ordered a somewhat vast fleet to be compatible with their former BN EMD SD70MAC units, but then decided to stick with having original Dash 9 units and their original fleet of SD70MAC units (eventually SD70ACe's) in place of their AC4400CW units on coal trains.
- The Ferronorte railway in Brazil is one of the only other standard gauge railroads, where they don't use the BB40-9W, but rather Dash 9's with Dash 8 trucks and slightly modified cabs.
- Later customers who purchased the Dash 9 were CN, Pilbara Ore, and BC Rail.
- BNSF Dash 9 #4723 is featured as a drivable locomotive in Microsoft Train Simulator (aside from being seen or featured on the front cover) and the actual Dash 9 has stickers on its cab noting this; aside from Dash 9's also being featured as drivable locomotives in RailWorks 3 and Trainz (as Add-ons).
- BNSF Dash 9 #1050 is painted in the "Heritage 1" scheme, but it's lettering is yellow, such as on the "Heritage 2" scheme.
- Two Chicago and North Western Dash 9s remain full-on CNW; 8646 and 8701.
- Ironically, the SP purchased their fleets of Dash 9's shortly before the AC4400CW's introduction, success, and production; thus, the SP became immediately interested in purchasing the AC-traction counter-part of the DC-traction Dash 9.
- Early SP (Southern Pacific) Dash 9 units were also painted with the "SP" initials separated slightly further away from each other on the front hoods of the actual units to help distinguish them from their fleets of AC4400CW units which were awaiting arrival shortly after their purchase of their Dash 9 fleets.
- The EMD "Tunnel Motor" series of heavy-duty diesel locomotives with advanced cooling systems actually inspired the Dash 9's design; primarily the cooling system (aside from the Dash 8; the Dash 9's main predecessor).
- BNSF C44-9W #4449 retains an ironic number reminiscent of SP #4449's; to which the unit also assisted #4449 numerous times when BNSF had ownership rights to operate steam excursions with SP #4449.
- Several earlier BNSF Dash 9 units built during 1998-1999 didn't receive full liveries as a result of their "Heritage 2" scheme being developed as opposed to receiving their previous "Heritage 1" scheme applied to other units.
- Although the BNSF merger was finalized in 1996, the railroad was receiving new Dash 9 units, yet they were still under ATSF ownership. Hence, the units retained their Dash 9 "Warbonnet" liveries, but didn't receive "Santa Fe" lettering on the sides as a result of GE being informed of the proposed and finalized merger between the Burlington Northern and ATSF railroads (although earlier former ATSF units were eventually patched or repainted as a result of having "refurbished" liveries as part of a tradition from BNSF).
- BNSF #700 was the first of such units; the first delivered to BNSF, though not in official company paint (similar to the railroad's preceeding order of SD70MAC units from the BN; thus, the deliveries weren't finalized before the BNSF merger between the ATSF's Dash 9 order and the BN's SD70MAC order).
- BNSF #961 was actually the very first Dash 9 unit to be painted in the company's first official scheme (being the "Heritage 1" scheme).
- BNSF #999 "Triple Nine" is often notorious amongst railfans (like with CSX #666).