PANAMA CITY, Panama, June 8, 2005 –Locomotives play a pivotal role in the efficient operation of the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal’s locomotive tow tracks run parallel to each side of the Canal’s three lock chambers. The tow tracks enable locomotive units or “mules” as they are called, to move alongside transiting vessels, affixed by wire cables, to maintain a ship’s position during passage through Canal locks. Today, the Panama Canal announced that it will continue its project to improve the tow tracks. Specifically, the ACP will rehabilitate the locomotive tow tracks at the northeast lane of the waterway’s Gatun Locks. Both lanes will remain in service and no reduction (delays) in normal transit capacity is foreseen.

The project is expected to take 13 days. Customers have been notified in advance of the project.

“Well-run locks are critical to providing our customers with safe, reliable and efficient service. Ultimately, our goal in rehabilitating these tracks is to decrease the time a vessel spends in each lockage, increasing efficiency and augmenting capacity,” said Jorge Quijano, ACP Maritime Operations Director.

The rehabilitation of the locomotive tow tracks is part of the ACP’s permanent modernization program – projects aimed to increase capacity and ensure the waterway’s safety, reliability and efficiency, including: the implementation and further upgrading of the Automatic Identification System (AIS), a sophisticated navigation system to better monitor ships and route traffic for safety and security purposes; the addition of a new launch; the Automated Data Collection System; and the deepening of the Gatun Lake and the Atlantic and Pacific channels. Also under this program are the recent strides made toward upgrading the locomotive fleet: In May 2005, the ACP received the components of six new locomotive units from Mitsubishi in May for on-site assembly, testing and deployment. The six new locomotive units are among 16 of 34 units purchased from Mitsubishi Corporation, part of a multi-year contract exercised in September 2003, that have the unique provision that they are assembled on-site in Panama by ACP personnel.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: