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Rail News Home BNSF Railway

February 2008

Rail News: BNSF Railway

A BNSF first: ECP-equipped coal train in revenue service

A second Class I is operating coal trains equipped with electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes in revenue service. Last month, BNSF Railway Co.’s first ECP-equipped revenue-service coal train departed the Powder River Basin for Southern Co.’s Birmingham, Ala., power plant.

Last year, BNSF and Norfolk Southern Railway received Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) waivers to begin installing and demonstrating ECP brakes, which send out electronic signals to simultaneously apply and release brakes throughout a train. Conventional brake systems apply each car’s brakes individually as air pressure moves in a series from car to car.

BNSF is equipping 12 locomotives with ECP brakes supplied by New York Air Brake Corp.; Southern Co. is outfitting 300 cars with Wabtec Corp.’s ECP-4200 equipment. BNSF will use the rolling stock in two 135-car train sets to assess current-generation ECP brakes. The Class I previously operated ECP-equipped taconite trains in revenue service from the mid-1990s until 2002.

“Through the operation of these [coal] trains, we look forward to gaining additional experience with the deployment of ECP brakes,” said BNSF Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Carl Ice in a prepared statement.

In October, NS operated its first ECP-equipped revenue-service coal train in Pennsylvania. The FRA waivers enable NS and BNSF to operate ECP-equipped trains at distances up to 3,500 miles — more than double the current maximum — with fewer routine brake inspection stops.


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