FORT WORTH, Texas — Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) will begin testing a new braking system that may reduce the amount of time it takes to stop a train.
The project, authorized by the Federal Railroad Administration, calls for NS and BNSF to equip and test certain locomotives and freight cars with electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes.
ECP brakes have the potential to reduce train stopping distances by as much as 50 to 70 percent over conventional air brake systems. ECP brakes utilize electronic signals to simultaneously apply and release throughout the length of a freight train. This differs from conventional brake systems in which each car brakes individually as air pressure moves in a series from car to car.
Testing ECP will allow the railroads to review its potential for improved braking and shorter stopping distances that may improve railroad and public safety, network capacity and efficiency, asset utilization, fuel savings and equipment maintenance.
NS and BNSF plan to conduct separate ECP brake tests. NS plans to equip 30 locomotives and 400 rapid-discharge coal cars with ECP brakes during 2007 and use the equipment in dedicated coal train service.
BNSF plans to test this technology within its intermodal fleet, focusing on international business to/from the San Pedro Bay ports. In addition, BNSF is pursing a partnership with a major coal customer to integrate this technology into one of the longest distance coal routes in the country.
“ECP brakes represent a major breakthrough in rail technology,” said Gerhard Thelen, Norfolk Southern’s vice president operations planning and support. “Our tests will help determine how the technology performs in a real- world environment and will indicate whether it will be practical to one day make it commonplace across the entire U.S. rail industry.”
“BNSF plans to expand the testing of this important technology within its fleet,” said Dave Dealy, BNSF’s vice president, Transportation. “By leveraging our past experience with this technology, BNSF looks forward to building on this foundation to allow further implementation of ECP into our intermodal and coal shipments.”