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At the time of delivery this locomotive was considered the most advanced passenger diesel locomotive in the United States. It uses IGBT technology with very precise traction computers for tractive effort. The PL42 has 800 kilowatts head-end power and WABCO's EPIC II braking system, along with an E-7 wheel slide device, made by Wabtec, preventing flats spots on the wheels through software and hardware.
It has an Intelligent Display Unit (IDU) based on Bombardier Transportation technology from which an engineer or technician can view data or download events and faults from the previous weeks or months. The technician can do a host of tests from the IDU to determine if a specific system is operating correctly.
The PL42AC uses computer hardware and software to control many functions and to protect the engine. For example, if the on-board computer detects too little oil in the system, it will shut down the engine to avoid damage.