Traditionally, EMD at the time only offered its standard engine with 1,500 horsepower and did not wish to change the specifications for the 1,600 horsepower requested by USATC. However, only under extreme pressure did EMD finally relent, changing the fuel injection settings and allowing for an added 100 horsepower. In the end, arguably due to politics, Alco/GE was awarded the contract for their version of the MRS-1 in one of the very few instances where Electro-Motive was beaten out by the competition during that era. Alco's most noticeable visual difference was the shape of its carbody featuring a beveled, smooth roof-line across the entire length of the frame; in contrast EMD's sported a "V"-shaped roof-line ending at the cab while the short hood was square giving the locomotive an uneven appearance.
Alco's MRS-1s, utilizing components from General Electric, were manufactured between 1953 and 1954. They carried the 12-cylinder, 244 model prime mover that could produce 1,600 horsepower and were slightly longer at 55 feet, 11 inches (weight was the same). In total, Alco manufactured 83 examples that were listed #2041-2123 (serials 80324-80406). Additionally, 50 of the locomotives carried steam generators for as-needed passenger assignments and their road numbers were designated with a "B" prefix. The military wound up paying an exorbitant amount of money for the MRS-1 models produced by both EMD and Alco; they averaged about $500,000 each, which was more than three times the amount of a standard road-switcher (such as a GP9 or RS3).
MRS-1 Production Totals
|Alco||B2041-B2090 (Steam generator-equipped.)||1953-1954||50|
In typical government fashion, the entire fleet of 96 units were never employed as intended. Once the locomotives were ready for service all were sent to USATC's Transportation Materiel Command facility at Marietta, Pennsylvania and parked. Only one actually made it overseas, EMD #1818, which performed testing on Germany's Deutsche Bundesbahn by the Army between 1952 and 1955. The rest of the brand new units remained stateside in storage until 1970 when the Pentagon deemed them superfluous, no longer needed for military service on foreign railroads. Some eventually did find work in the different branches such as the Air Force, Army, and Navy. Additionally, one civilian line, the Alaska Railroad, purchased many second-hand for use in freight service; 13 Alcos and 5 EMDs.
Incredibly, numerous examples of these interesting locomotives were ultimately preserved; some are even operational and at least one, a former Alco, operates in freight service on the Texas State Railroad (former US Army #2101) as of June, 2014. Unfortunately, many of the EMD's were scrapped but four are still known to exist and one is on display at the US Army Museum of Transportation at Fort Eustis, Virginia. There are also more than 20 examples of Alcos preserved, scattered around the country from Maryland to California. If still there, what was formerly #2108 is believed to be rusting away at Camp MacKall (a special forces training area) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. To read more about other Alco and Electro-Motive models please visit the Diesel Locomotives section of the site, which can be reached from the top of this page.
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