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<< Rail News Home: Mechanical

11/7/2003    Freight News

Rail News: Mechanical

NS seeks to minimize train-handling variations, save fuel with locomotive event-monitoring system

Norfolk Southern Railway is about to begin a pilot locomotive program aimed at conserving fuel, increasing safety and improving train handling. The Class I plans soon to conduct an 18-month test of the Locomotive Engineer Assist Display and Event Recorder (LEADER®), a computer system designed to determine optimal train handling based on topography.

NS developed the pilot project through a partnership with New York Air Brake Corp., General Electric Transportation Systems and the Federal Railroad Administration, which is providing a $615,000 grant.

Produced by New York Air Brake, LEADER will be installed on 15 GE DASH 9 locomotives equipped with GETS' LocoComm® technology. NS plans to operate the locomotives on its curvy, hilly 104-mile Winston-Salem line, which runs from Roanoke, Va., to Belews Creek, N.C.

LEADER is designed to continuously log a train's operating state, monitor fuel usage and create a statistical profile of a run. NS would use the profiles to develop a "Golden Run," or the most fuel-efficient trip, and help engineers maintain optimal performance on subsequent trips by prompting locomotive throttle and brake adjustments.

"Operating a train based on an average is no longer any good, we have to know the variations and root cause of a variation," says John Samuels, NS senior vice president of operations planning and support. "We want to get [engineers] in a tighter pack with little variations."

Jeff Stagl

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