Replacement and Usage Plans for Switching Locomotives Should Be Reevaluated

LCD-80-58: Published: May 12, 1980. Publicly Released: May 12, 1980.

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Various Department of Defense (DOD) components own, operate, and manage 431 switching locomotives at 139 locations. The locomotives are at bases, depots, and contractor's plants to move material within the installations or between the interchange tracks of commercial carriers. The locomotives, manufactured by 13 different manufacturers during World War II and the Korean conflict, include 10 sizes ranging from 44 tons to 120 tons. Annual operating costs and track maintenance costs have been estimated at over $30 million for all locations. In its study of the management of these locomotives, GAO visited 27 installations where a total of 73 locomotives were located.

Despite the fact that retention of the locomotives at many installations could not be justified, some military services are planning to replace or overhaul many of them. This situation has resulted from weaknesses in management related to the lack of (1) usage and replacement criteria, (2) asset visibility, and (3) central direction and control. The military services' own studies have also questioned the need for many of the locomotives. The millions of dollars spent each year to operate the locomotives and the high cost of purchasing new locomotives or remanufacturing existing ones make it imperative that management be improved.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of DOD should (1) issue a DOD instruction setting standards against which to measure actual usage; (2) have the services give each inventory manager decisionmaking authority; (3) assign the manager the responsibility for maintaining indepth knowledge about all the locomotives, determining overall locomotive needs, developing replacement plans, questioning retention of underused locomotives, and directing redistribution to locations needing locomotives; (3) establish a system for reporting usage to the inventory managers; (4) discontinue rail operations at locations where usage is low and where more economical alternatives, such as trucks, can satisfy operating needs; (5) designate one of the inventory managers as the DOD focal point for locomotives; and (6) develop a DOD-wide replacement plan.

    Agency Affected:


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