Yes finesse , that's exactly what I was thinking when posting above . I don't think they pull any better than a good standard NR and it doesn't look to me like they use significantly less fuel than a good standard one .Remember that the engines are being replaced because the old ones are life-expired and the electronics are being replaced because they are obsolete and no longer supportable.
Some will tell you a std unit is less fatiguing to operate because the displays are easier to view/navigate and beepers don't screech at you periodically when you release the brakes . Do you really need a warning light flashing at you to tell you the engines brakes are on ?
Hard to imagine USDM equipment allowing changes or alternatives with proprietary computer software . Smells of the old Clyde EMD attitude .
The seats are not as good as the old ones and this will have to be looked at . Also an issue in a locomotive that rides a bit harder again like the newer ACs .
Haven't any of you people bought a new car recently? I drove a current Hyundai I30 on a recent work trip. It had an interlock that prevented me from taking the key out of the ignition if the transmission selector wasn't in "Park". Many cars won't let you select "Reverse" unless your foot is depressing the brake pedal. A friend replaced his 2006 Subaru Forester with a 2013 model (called 2014 in the USA). It shows red lights indicating that the three back seat belts aren't engaged. A chime sounds if the passenger seat belt is released when the car is moving. The driver released his seat belt as the car rolled to a stop and there was an amazing squeal that continued after the car had stopped. On the other hand, many more useful features, like "range to empty" and "average fuel consumption" are displayed that weren't on the old model.
The NR class are ten years older than that Subaru. There are seventeen years worth of political correctness built into the replacement electronics, simply because that is what is available now, just as what was fitted in 1996 was what was available then. But it isn't being fitted to be better (or more user friendly) than the previous equipment. It is being fitted to keep the locomotives in traffic.
A question. On the rebuilt locomotives, two angled lines appear on the nose, looking like thin black lines on NR18 and fresh yellow lines on NR54. These are just inboard of the sand box fillers. Are they repairing the sandboxes during the rebuild, because these lines suggest welding was carried out on the inner sides of the sandboxes?