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steam locomotives
modern locomotives
locomotive engine
exhaust emissions
air horn
Modern Railroading
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Modern Railroading

Railroading pretty much began to modernize when railroads scrapped their steam locomotives and started to use diesel locomotives instead. Some railroads did not follow this trend and ran steam locomotives as late as the early 1960's. Steam locomotives were powerful but labor intensive. They required more maintenance and servicing than diesel locomotives. Diesel locomotives on the other hand require fewer stops for fuel and much less scheduled maintenance. Modern locomotives can hold up to 4,000 gallons of fuel and can run from the West Coast to the Midwest on one fill up.

The latest trend for railroads has been to have much larger locomotives with 4400 horsepower 16 cylinder engines, but recently one manufacturer has been able to build 12 cylinder engines with the same 4400 horsepower and lower exhaust emissions.

New regulations in Federal Laws have railroads busy updating the electronics on their locomotives. All Class 1 railroads are required to complete the updates by 2015. This is a train control system to help eliminate human error from train control. It is designed to intervene and stop the train if human error is detected in the control of the train, regardless of what the train crew tries to do. This system, if it can be implemented and it works will remove a large human error factor from train operations.

Railroads already have on-board cameras and event recorders that record everything the crew changes on the locomotive. In the event of an accident the on-board camera hard drive can be removed and downloaded to review the details of the accident. The event recorder shows what controls were changed on the locomotive and even shows if the whistle (air horn) was used down to the exact location.

Tier 4 engine emissions are another obstacle for locomotive manufactureres. The air pollution regulations are very low for the emission standards of diesel engines. GE is using a different turbo configuration to force more air into their locomotive engine and make the combustion improve with less emissions. Other manufacturers, such as Caterpillar are jumping on the wagon, with the acquisition of Progress Rail (EMD), Cat is testing an engine to be used in locomotives that will meet Tier 4 emissions.

Locomotive builders are constantly changing the way they build locomotives. EMD (Electro Motive Diesel) and GE (General Electric) are the two major locomotive builders. EMD has just released a break through in locomotive technology that changes the way locomotive power to the wheels can be used, although GE has had a similar technology for some time.

More to come in the future. Railroading is always changing!


Street Talk

I LOVE trains!. Nice article.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Interesting article.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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