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China Agrees to Buy 200 Locomotives from G.E.

April 24, 1985

PEKING (AP) _ China on Wednesday signed an agreement to buy 200 diesel-electric locomotives from General Electric Co. in a technology-transfer deal worth $230 million.

The company’s transportation division, based in Erie, Pa., has now sold about $450 million in locomotives to China; in October 1983, G.E. sold 220 diesel-electrics here. The modified C36-7, 4,000-horsepower locomotives were the first American diesels bought by China.

The latest deal calls for a transfer of technology in training the Chinese on how to overhaul and maintain locomotives. It calls for the locomotives to leave Erie by March 1986, and for G.E. to provide spare parts to be stored in Shanghai.

G.E. also agreed to have the 2,400 wheels for the locomotives manufactured in Dalian and Datong, China, a purchase worth about $2.5 million.

The contracts were signed Wednesday morning at the Great Hall of the People here in a ceremony attended by Zheng Tuobin, minister of foreign economic relations and trade for the China; U.S. Ambassador Arthur Hummel; and G.E. executives James Baker and Carl Schlemmer.

Also present was Earl Hansen, G.E.’s China projects manager based in Erie. The first consignment of G.E. locomotives, modified for use on China’s rails, are in service at depots in Nanjing, Jinan and Peking. The second lot will be used in Peking and Dalian. G.E. has service engineers in all depots.

More than 185 locomotives from the 1984 order have been placed in service in China, accumulating more than 4 million fleet miles at an availability rate of 94 percent, Schlemmer said.

″That’s something we’re extremely proud of. At the same time, it’s become a target for us to meet or beat on this order,″ he said.

China builds locomotives of its own, including immense steam engines for cross-country freight hauls. Freight and passenger traffic is heavy and the government has plans for major expansion in its 32,240-mile rail network, the fifth-largest in the world.

G.E.’s newly automated transportation division employs about 8,000 workers in Erie and is capable of producing 600 locomotives a year. The plant is currently working at an unspecified level below capacity.

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