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BNSF kicks tires on fuel optimization system


BNSF Railway Co. is taking another step down the better-fuel-management path. The Class I is testing a computerized onboard fuel optimization system designed to help locomotive engineers reduce diesel consumption.

Featuring software that’s integrated into the in-cab electronic communication system, the fuel optimization system is fed origination/destination and track data, train consist information and temporary speed restrictions via satellite. After a trip is initialized at origin, the real-time system determines the most fuel-efficient train handling techniques for the move. The system then prompts the locomotive engineer to make necessary throttle and braking adjustments.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen partnered with the railroad early in the testing process to help identify and train engineers as mentors within five subdivisions that are piloting the system, according to an item posted on the “BNSF News” Web site. Currently, 13 mentors are assisting engineers with computer-based and hands-on training during the pilot program.

Preliminary testing began earlier this year and is expected to be completed by year’s end. BNSF is testing two systems and plans to choose the optimal one in second-quarter 2010.

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More News from 9/15/2009