The Educational Railroading Conference Leader Since 1994


2019 Heavy Haul Session


Running Longer Trains More Productively and Less Destructively

Dave Peltz

Dave Peltz
GE Transportation, a WABTEC Company

This presentation addresses the continuous desire of railroads to run longer and heavier freight trains, and how to do so with minimum impact to the rail infra-structure. The introduction of Distributed Power in 1963, where locomotives can be placed in multiple locations throughout a train, and are controlled via radio command from the lead locomotive was the pivotal technology in running longer and heavier trains. Distributing the locomotives minimized the in-train forces so railroads could run longer and heavier trains without exceeding the limits of coupler strength between freight cars. Additionally, because the remote locomotives apply air brake reductions at their location, the long trains had similar stopping distances as short trains, so there was no need to adjust the nation-wide safety block system. The benefits were clear that running longer trains allowed the transport of more commodities with fewer crews.

However, greater throughput means more mass, and even with distributed power, that mass has a destructive impact on the train and rail infrastructure. To address this problem, the three things needed are covered in this presentation; 1) The ability to investigate, test, and analyze the dynamics and physics, 2) Determination of how to control these destructive forces, and 3) Develop the technology to implement that control.