USA: A ‘stronger, lighter and more energy-efficient’ open wagon design which makes use of high strength steel to reduce empty weight by 6·8 tonnes has been announced by US Steel, The Greenbrier Companies and Norfolk Southern, which has ordered an initial batch of 800.
The companies said the partnership between steelmaker, wagon manufacturer and end-user arose from the recognition that many of the ageing open wagons used to transport loose bulk material such as scrap metal, coil, wood chips, steel slabs and ore in North America will soon require replacing with a more sustainable design.
The high strength steel technology was adapted for rail use by US Steel, which designs lightweight and high-strength products for the automotive sector. The steel is twice as strong as that which is traditionally used in wagon manufacturing. This could extend the useful life of each wagon to 50 years, with the stronger bodies lowering maintenance costs. The wagons will be more energy-efficient, with less material being used, and the lower weight and reduction in structural reinforcement providing a higher capacity than previous designs.
‘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’, said NS Chairman & CEO James A Squires on December 9. ‘The advancements made on these gondolas can be applied to other car types, ensuring that this sustainable innovation continues well into the future.’