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<< Rail News Home: Mechanical

2/5/2008    Mechanical

Rail News: Mechanical

KCS to deploy GPS ballast train, CWR train and Gen-Set switchers

Kansas City Southern's mechanical department is tapping technology in a big way to boost efficiency, cut fuel usage and reduce air pollutants.

Three Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. (KCSM) maintenance-of way-supervisors soon will begin a six-week course to learn how to operate a newly leased Global Positioning System (GPS) ballast train — the first GPS train in Mexico and second on KCS' network.

Last year, The Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (KCSR) tested a GPS train and began using the equipment on the Meridian Speedway. The train's computer stores information on grade crossings, bridges and switches. Using GPS, the computer tells the train where and how much ballast to unload, then opens and closes unloading doors.

The train can reduce ballast unloading work windows from 24 hours to 45 minutes, allow crews to unload ballast at night and eliminate the need for a person to walk along the side of a ballast train while unloading, KCS said.

KCSR and KCSM also are beginning to use a new continuous-welded rail (CWR) train. Comprising old KCSR rail cars that have been reconfigured to handle CWR, the train initially will move rail from plants in Shreveport, La., and Pueblo, Colo., to KCSM for track maintenance and construction projects in Mexico.

In addition, KCSR recently completed a 30-day test of Railpower Technologies Corp.'s 2,000-horsepower "Gen-Set" locomotive, which is designed to cut fuel usage between 25 percent and 50 percent and reduce emissions between 80 percent and 90 percent. KCSR still is testing National Railway Equipment Co.'s environmentally friendly N-viromotive Gen-Set switcher. The railroad expects to complete the test later this month.

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