Progressive Railroading

Newsletter Sign Up
Stay updated on news, articles and information for the rail industry

All fields are required.

Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends


Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

NS operates first ECP brake-equipped train in revenue service

Norfolk Southern Corp. is the first out of the gate and BNSF Railway Co. soon will follow.

Yesterday, NS operated an electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brake-equipped train — the first revenue service train to feature the braking system. The railroad plans to use the train, comprising three new locomotives and 115 new hybrid coal gondolas, in regular service between southwestern Pennsylvania coal mines and a Keystone Generating Station in Shelocta, Pa.

In March, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued waivers to NS and BNSF that permit the railroads to install ECP brakes on trains traveling up to 3,500 miles — more than double the current maximum distance — and make fewer routine brake inspection stops than federal regulations currently require. The brakes can improve train control and reduce the risk of derailments, according to the FRA.

By year's end, BNSF plans to begin operating ECP brake-equipped trains and NS expects to equip 30 locomotives, 210 quick-drop coal hoppers and 230 hybrid gondolas with the brakes for use in dedicated coal-train service. NS is working with locomotive supplier GE- Transportation, ECP brake system supplier New York Air Brake Corp. and rail-car builder FreightCar America Inc.

"These railroads understand using ECP brake technology can bring significant safety and business benefits, and I encourage other railroads to follow their lead," said FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman in a prepared statement.

ECP brakes are designed to reduce train stopping distances by as much as 60 percent compared with conventional air-brake systems. ECP brakes issue electronic signals to simultaneously apply and release brakes throughout the length of a train instead of each car applying brakes individually as air pressure moves from car to car.

Last month, the FRA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on ECP brakes that would revise federal brake system safety standards and encourage railroads to deploy the technology The FRA is accepting written comments on the proposed rulemaking until Nov. 5.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/12/2007