Canadian railways look forward to sharing what they've learned about the operation of long freight trains at a conference next June in Calgary, says Michael Roney, General Manager Technical Standards & Chief Engineer, Engineering Services of Canadian Pacific.
The best arrangement is locomotives at the front and rear of the train as well as in the middle, explains Roney, chairman of the International Heavy Haul Association and cochairman of its 2011 conference in Calgary that will look at railroading in extreme climates.
Distributing the locomotives through the train "stabilizes and equalizes the forces exerted on the freight cars," he adds. That reduces the pushing and pulling on the cars and that produces less wear and tear on them and the rails. The result is a safer operation compared to conventional trains where all the locomotives are at the head end. Even with locomotives at the front and back of the train, there's more push and pull on the cars than in a distributed power train (DP) as the train slows or picks up speed.
The difference between a DP and a conventional train shows up in track monitoring equipment, he adds. “You can tell from the monitors by the amount of lateral forces in the train” whether it’s a DP train. They generate 20% less lateral force on the tracks than conventional trains.
In a recent report, the Transportation Safety Board noted that since 1995, “freight trains have increased 25% in terms of size and weight making it all the more important that freight cars in those trains are positioned to reduce the stress on them. If you liken a long train to an accordion, pulling forces tend to separate cars and pushing forces will compress them together.”
Transport Canada said a research project, that’s expected to finalize