Motes: A New Approach to Equipment Health Monitoring

RAILWAY AGE, OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE: The railroad industry has been monitoring various aspects of rail vehicle health for decades using wayside detectors. These detectors have improved the operational safety and efficiency of the North American rail network, but there are drawbacks: Wayside detectors must be strategically placed to maximize traffic coverage, for example. What if, rather than getting an “inspection” once every eventual passing of a wayside detector, it was possible to continually monitor rail vehicle health in operations?


During a recent two-year period, engineers from Norfolk Southern (NS) and Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) evaluated rail performance on four curves on the NS Whitethorne District, near Roanoke, Va., during two periods of 39 to 40 MGT (million gross ton) traffic accumulation. The objective was to document RCF (rolling contact fatigue) development, rail friction, and rail wear as influenced by the TORFC (top-of-rail friction control) materials NS currently uses. The rails were ground at the beginning of the test and again halfway through the test in April 2017, with the intent of producing similar conditions, after which a 39-40 MGT monitoring effort commenced, each with a different TORFC product.(1,2) The curve rails differed by rail mill, age and wear.

Impact Control With Limited Slack Action: Measuring Long-Travel Draft System Performance

RAILWAY AGE, JULY 2020 ISSUE, TTCI R&D: Draft systems are important contributors to train performance because, among effects, these systems limit the relative motion between coupled vehicles in a train and absorb energy during impact events. An end-of-car cushioning (EOCC) unit is a type of long-travel draft system that uses hydraulic cylinders in place of standard friction draft gears to absorb energy and improve yard impact performance. EOCC units absorb energy when coupler forces are applied by forcing oil from a high-pressure inner cylinder to a low-pressure outer casing through various preloaded orifices over a long displacement stroke, which is typically 10 or 15 inches.

On Board with TALOS® at TTCI

In Greek mythology, Talos was a giant bronze man who guarded the island of Crete by hurling stones at the ships of pirates and invaders. He circled Crete’s shores three times daily. In the real world of North American railroading, TALOS® is Progress Rail’s energy management system “that leverages machine learning and computing power to analyze and optimize routes, resulting in significant improvements in fuel and time.”

A Look Ahead to Automatic

RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE – Aug. 27, 2019 will arguably be one of the single-most important days in North American freight railroading in recent history. On a test track at TTCI (Transportation Technology Center, Inc.) in Pueblo, Colo., with railroad executives and industry officials in attendance and locomotive engineers in the cab, a PTC (Positive Train Control)-compliant, heavy-haul freight train consisting of three EMD high-horsepower road locomotives and 30 loaded cars carrying 4,725 trailing tons started and stopped solely under the command of an on-board computer.

Rolling Asset Health

Railway Age, June 2019 Issue, Combining Big Data Analytics With Remote Monitoring: Advancing safe and efficient rail operations continues to be a primary focus of North American freight railroad operations. What is particularly exciting right now is that the data available to railroads, both in its detail and volume, enables them to manage their operations in ways that were not possible before.