DRIVERS can be informed of the most efficient train handling techniques to achieve the best fuel economy and fastest journey times using Leader, which is undergoing testing by Norfolk Southern.

The Locomotive Engineer Assist/Display & Event Recorder was developed by New York Air Brake Corp, and has been fitted to 15 of the railway’s Dash 9 locomotives for testing over 167 km of track between Winston-Salem and Roanoke. The 18-month test programme is being carried out by NS, NYAB, GE Transportation Systems and the Federal Railroad Administration, which has provided a $615 000 grant to the project.

Through continuous real-time monitoring of performance over a series of trips, Leader builds up a statistical profile of the energy used in moving the train. It then uses the data on operations, speed limits, curvature, brake pressure, in-train dynamic forces and fuel consumption to calculate a ’golden run’, an optimal journey plan which offers the best energy efficiency.

Leader can then help the driver achieve this profile, using an in-cab display to offer real-time prompts at the best times to accelerate or brake.

’Leader has the potential to be the next major advance in train handling,’ according to John Samuels, NS Senior Vice-President, Operations Planning & Support. ’Not only is there the opportunity to achieve significant fuel savings, a real benefit to the environment and potentially to our bottom line, but also to improve safety.’

New York Air Brake Corp, USA

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