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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

MRL joins handful of U.S. rails opting to operate remote-controlled locomotives


Montana Rail Link (MRL) July 31 took delivery of five CANAC Inc. BELTPACK® locomotive remote-control (LRC) systems.
Although Canadian railroads have used LRC systems for the past six years — including Canadian National Railway Co., which currently uses 126 BELTPACKs — U.S. rails, aside from a few short lines, have been slow to adopt the systems due to Federal Railroad Administration safety concerns.
However, FRA in February issued a safety advisory that established recommended guidelines for LRC operation; MRL was one of several U.S. railroads that helped prompt FRA to recommend the guidelines.
"Coupled with other operating improvements implemented at MRL, we look forward to continued improvements in safety and productivity across our railroad," said Daniel Watts, president of the 957-mile regional, in a prepared statement.
BELTPACK is designed to enable a qualified engineer to operate a locomotive either while on the power unit or standing near the track. CANAC officials believe BELTPACKs can help cut operating costs, and improve productivity and safety — reducing yard incidents more than 50 percent.

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More News from 8/2/2001