Trains Top 10 stories for 2017: No. 2, THE SALE OF GE TRANSPORTATION

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WAUKESHA, Wis. — GE says it wants to stop making locomotives.

That stunning announcement from Nov. 13 threw most of us for a loop. GE, one of the world's oldest locomotive builders — done. GE, maker of U-boats — tossing in the towel. GE, the innovator. GE, the leader. GE, the 800-pound gorilla of diesel-electric locomotives. Erie, Fort Worth, Grove City ... Atlanta — and other cities where GE acquisitions maintained a presence — won't be involved in building GE locomotives.

Statements from the company seem to indicate that executives would like to complete a sale, spin-off, or some transfer of the $4 billion business within the next year or two. That is aggressive.

Something tells us that the ruthlessly competitive inventor and founder of GE, Thomas Edison, or his onetime investor, the equally ruthless JP Morgan, would laugh at us for shedding tears about a business divestiture. But man, with more than 120 years building locomotives and at least 100 years in one location (Erie), it seems someone should shed a tear GE locomotives — so we will.

At the very least, we can say that with the popularity and dominance GE enjoys in locomotive markets, at least it is going out on top.

For the length of time in business, the dominance of its industry, and the indelible nature of GE Transportation's place in American and railfan psychology, Trains editors name the Sale of GE Transportation the No. 2 story of 2017.

Trains editors will present the Top Ten stories of the year in reverse order starting Dec. 21 and finishing on Dec. 30.

Read previous years' Top Ten stories online.
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