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By Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor
For four days last month, “interaction” was the key word at Wheel/Rail Interaction ’09. Held May 4-7 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, the seminar presented the more than 100 attendees many opportunities to intermingle and gather valuable information on a number of wheel/rail interface topics.
Organized by Wheel Rail Seminars and Advanced Rail Management Corp. (ARM), and presented by Progressive Railroading, the event included a rail transit seminar, principles course and two-day heavy haul seminar.
The heavy haul seminar included six “InfoZones,” 25-minute presentations by ARM, ENSCO Inc., the Portec Rail Group (including Kelsan and Salient Systems Inc.), Lincoln Industrial Corp. and Rail Sciences Inc. that addressed various topics, such as top-of-rail lubrication and vehicle dynamic modeling software, and provided ample question-and-answer time.
Sponsored by ARM, Speno International, Rail Sciences Inc., FunctionSim, KLD Labs Inc., the National Coal Transportation Association and Full Service Railroad Consulting Inc., the seminar also included 16 presentations on such topics as identifying out-of-round wheels, using wayside monitoring data to manage the wheel/rail interface, controlling rolling contact fatigue and improving rail grinding strategies.
During his presentation entitled “Getting Back to Basics: Successful Rail Grinding Starts With Ballast, Ties and Fasteners” on May 5, Hooper Engineering principal Norm Hooper said grinding costs railroads about $30,000 per day.
A lot of technology is available to railroads now — such as optical rail measurement systems — that is “greatly under-
utilized” and could help roads better manage grinding costs, said Hooper.
Later on May 5, Union Pacific Railroad General Director of Car and Locomotive Engineering Mike Iden discussed the Class I’s ongoing electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brake pilot.
The presentation summarized the Class I’s experiences with an ECP-equipped double-stack intermodal train.
Unlike BNSF Railway Co. and Norfolk Southern Corp., which are piloting ECP brakes predominantly on unit coal trains, UP is doing so on intermodal trains because of mileage accumulation, speed (which can reach 70 mph) and car control, said Iden.
UP is piloting the brakes on a double-stack train moving between Long Beach, Calif., and Dallas — a distance of 2,998 miles, which is “well under” the Federal Railroad Administration waiver-rule threshold of 3,500 miles, he said.
Since launching the pilot on Oct. 18, 2008, the railroad had completed 23 round trips on a trainset equipped with New York Air Brake Corp.-supplied ECP brakes. The train had logged about 69,000 miles in 200 days, said Iden.
UP plans to soon begin piloting a second trainset equipped with Wabtec Corp.-supplied ECP brakes, he said.
UP plans to equip a total of 10 ES44AC locomotives and 50 five-well articulated cars controlled by TTX Co. with the brakes. The rolling stock will feature all-new ECP brake systems, not any type of overlay on existing brake systems, said Iden.
The goal of the pilot is to “get everybody comfortable with ECP for now and to get engineers qualified on ECP,” he said.