United States Steel, Norfolk Southern and The Greenbrier Companies have partnered on a new steel gondola railcar they say is more sustainable.
Using an innovative formula for high-strength, lighter-weight steel developed by U. S. Steel, each gondola’s unloaded weight is reduced by up to 15,000 pounds. Gondola railcars transport loose bulk material such as metal scraps, coils, wood chips, steel slabs and ore.
Norfolk Southern will initially acquire 800 of the Greenbrier engineered gondolas.
“The use of lightweight, high-strength steel is a real revolution for railcars. Not only will each gondola carry more material, they will do so by using less energy, making our operations, and our customer’s operations, even more environmentally friendly,” James A. Squires, chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern, said in a news release.
The three companies said the newly designed gondolas provide:
- Extended Lifecycle: The new steel is twice as strong as traditional steel used in the railcar manufacturing process, potentially extending the useful life of each gondola to 50 years. A stronger external finish also strengthens the railcar body, lowering maintenance costs.
- Increased Sustainability: The new gondola is more energy-efficient, both during production and in use. The steel fabrication process requires less time, leading to improved energy efficiency due to less material being used. The lower weight decreases the fuel needed by locomotives hauling the railcars, reducing energy usage and lowering emissions.
- Greater Freight Capacity: Enhancements to the gondola design also afford greater freight capacity. The high-strength steel requires less structural reinforcement, simplifying the manufacturing process and allowing more total cargo space in each railcar.
“This joint initiative proves that point with an innovative railcar that is stronger, lighter and more capable, with the planet being the ultimate beneficiary,” U. S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt said in a news release.