MotivePower Inc.


With more than 40 years of experience under its belt and a widespread reputation for quality and service, it’s easy to see why MotivePower Inc. is an industry leader in the design, manufacturing and re-manufacturing of diesel-electric locomotives.

Since 1972, the company – established as the rail systems group of manufacturer Morrison Knudsen and formerly known as Boise Locomotive Company – has successfully manufactured and delivered more than 2,500 locomotives from its manufacturing facility in Boise, Idaho. MotivePower is a subsidiary of Wabtec, which was formed following the merger of its parent MotivePower Industries Corp. with Westinghouse Air Brake Company in 1999. 

“MotivePower’s extensive system integration and application engineering experience are unmatched in the industry,” the company says. 

“From new locomotives designed from the ground up to modernizing older locomotives, MotivePower has the engineering expertise to tackle even the most complex project.”

Company Offerings

The company’s core products and services include new commuter and switcher locomotives, locomotive overhauls and modernizations, OEM locomotive modules, emissions reduction and contract fleet maintenance. One key product is the MPXpress® diesel-electric commuter locomotive, introduced in 2003 and designed by with crew safety, performance and reliability in mind. The locomotives meet the latest crashworthiness and safety standards set by the American Public Transportation Association.

“We have delivered or received orders for 100 MPXpress® locomotives from eight different transit agencies throughout North America since 2003, making it the proven and preferred choice for commuter rail agencies,” the company says. “MPXpress® locomotives offer significant technological improvements, including higher-horsepower engines to move more passengers within the same schedule, improved fuel efficiency, advanced emissions reduction technology and microprocessor controls.” 

MotivePower is the only manufacturer of new diesel-electric commuter locomotives in North America. In addition to the MPXpress locomotive, the company is also capable of upgrading existing units with remanufactured components, allowing rail agencies to modernize their locomotives at a reasonable cost. 

Diesel emission reduction is a high priority for the company. “We are committed to assisting railroads in their ongoing efforts to reduce locomotive emissions and improve operating efficiencies,” the company says. “We designed and manufactured the only four liquefied natural gas locomotives operating in North America and were the first to provide Tier 2 low-horsepower locomotives and Tier 2 commuter locomotives.”

MotivePower is also capable of installing solutions that reduce locomotive exhaust such as microprocessor engine controls, electronic fuel injection, diesel oxidation catalyst and diesel particulate filters, it says.

Engineering Expertise

MotivePower’s production competencies include design, application and system integration engineering, manufacturing and servicing locomotives and project management. The company’s team of 70 design engineers is experienced in applications including complete systems integration, microprocessor control applications, structural engineering and engine emissions engineering.

“We are the industry leader in engineering expertise and quality in locomotive overhaul, remanufacture and modernization services,” the company says. “We can help to develop a specification that meets our client’s needs and budget. 

“We can extend the service life, improve reliability and enhance performance of a locomotive fleet.”

Overhaul and maintenance services include complete locomotive overhauls, engine and truck overhauls, electrical cabinet upgrades and rebuilds, microprocessor control upgrades and design and fabrication of locomotive structures including the cab, car body and frame. The company has maintenance operations in California, Texas, Utah and Idaho.

Quality Assured

All manufacturing and remanufacturing work is performed in two complexes in Boise comprising more than 50 acres, 13 buildings and 300,000 square feet. Facilities include stripping, cleaning, shot blasting, locomotive component manufacturing, fabrication, production, final assembly, paint and finishing shops as well as testing and emissions platforms. Locomotive components, shells and frames are moved between shops for scheduled “just-in-time” delivery, never being exposed to natural elements for excessive amounts of time, the company adds.

MotivePower’s manufacturing operations are driven by its use of lean manufacturing techniques patterned after the Toyota Manufacturing System. These techniques, known collectively as the Wabtec Performance System (WPS), are designed to bring about continuous improvements in quality, delivery, cost, productivity and product development. The company is ISO 9001:2000 registered and AAR M1003 certified.

“The ideals embodied in WPS, including the constant pursuit of quality, continuous improvement and the elimination of waste, are ingrained in the Wabtec culture and produce meaningful, substantial results,” MotivePower says. “Wabtec aggressively applies a variety of WPS techniques to its business, manufacturing and product development processes throughout the corporation to generate improvements that benefit all stakeholders.”

MotivePower holds an annual three-day kaizen event and conducts continuous improvement projects year-round. As a result of these events and projects, the company has seen an optimized use of its floor space, labor and equipment, reduced its work-in-process inventories, increased its inventory turns and improved safety and quality.

Other components of the WPS program include statistical engineering and value stream mapping and a priority deployment process that focuses employees’ efforts on achieving major objectives that support its long-term goals, the company adds.  


MotivePower Inc.