News & Reviews News Wire Railcar makers Trinity, Greenbrier introduce high-capacity hoppers at Railway Interchange in Minneapolis NEWSWIRE

Railcar makers Trinity, Greenbrier introduce high-capacity hoppers at Railway Interchange in Minneapolis NEWSWIRE

By Brian Schmidt | September 24, 2019

| Last updated on November 3, 2020

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Trinity Rail’s new Trinflow hopper on display at Railway Interchange in Minneapolis this week.
TRAINS: Brian Schmidt
MINNEAPOLIS — Two new covered hopper cars from rival manufacturers both displayed at Railway Interchange 2019 in Minneapolis promise to revolutionize grain transportation in North America. Both hoppers use new adjustable gates that enable the cars to carry the same volume in a shorter length. This will enable higher capacity trains for the same length on the rails, increasing efficiency while negating the need to expand rail infrastructure.

Dallas-based Trinity Rail’s new Trinflow 5,211 cubic foot capacity hopper is based on industry feedback to shorten railcars and make the most of capacity. The car is shorter compared with similar capacity cars, according to Senior Vice President Harry Zander.

“We used a design for the longitudinal outlets that was a proven design that we had used in the coal industry for thousands of builds, used in the aggregate business for thousands of cars, so we have a long history of this longitudinal door design,” he says. “It’s proven to be a great solution for unloading grain.”

Gate doors are operated by air, and the new design enables the car to empty faster than traditional covered hopper designs. It can even, as Zander notes, evacuate faster than many grain facilities can handle, leading to possible efficiency increases in that industry.

The cars are available for lease as the company continues to prove the concept, and the company expects to offer them for sale in the future.

Meanwhile, Greenbrier has introduced its 5,185 cubic foot capacity Tsunami Gate covered hopper, displayed for the first time at Railway Interchange. The car, one of two prototypes in testing, features adjustable discharge gates that can empty the car in 30 seconds.

“Nothing has really changed in grain car unloading since the 1960s,” says Vice President International Product Development Peter Jones.

According to Jones, the new design enables the car to be be shorter, in this case about 5 feet, 6 inches shorter than previous offerings for comparable capacity. The the new design comes with a 53% reduction in drag, which will save railroads fuel and a lower center of gravity to provide better handling.

Greenbrier is also working with the Federal Railroad Administration to “clean the roof” and install automated hatches on the car. “To get there, we have to get some waivers from the FRA to remove some of the running boards,” he says. “Our vision for the car is not putting a guy or gal on the roof is a much better option, it’s a lot safer.”

Jones says the two cars will go into testing with Union Pacific before regular production starts. There is specific date available for the start or production or sale, noting that the company wants to work with UP and other railroads to refine the car before it is available for sale.

Greenbrier Cos.’ new Tsunami hopper on display at Railway Interchange in Minneapolis this week.
TRAINS: Brian Schmidt

12 thoughts on “Railcar makers Trinity, Greenbrier introduce high-capacity hoppers at Railway Interchange in Minneapolis NEWSWIRE

  1. @Curt Warfel

    Those containers were part of Santa Fe’s fuel foiler IM rolling stock. The problem with those containers was weight.. Other than that. Santa Fe had a novel idea that CN and others now take advantage of. Goods in, grain out. Santa Fe containers had gates at the hopper side of the container to unload grain with out having to tip or manually unload the container.

  2. Gerald:

    However you want to read it. “Nothing has really changed in grain car unloading since the 1960s,” is pretty straight forward and all-inclusive. Your interpretation would be correct if there was but one type of “grain car”, but the predominant way to move grain the in the 1960s was still box cars. By not simply clarifying such as, “Nothing has really changed in the unloading of covered hoppers since the 1960s,” it does suggest he might even be unaware that there WERE other means to handle grain during that time.

  3. Mr. Meyer, by the mid 60’s grain handling in box cars was seen as obsolete and especially the elevators were pushed quickly to use covered hoppers. The only exceptions were on the branch lines which could not handle the heavier cars. Those lines were either quickly upgraded or the elevators converted to trucks and the rail line abandoned. This old Iowa farm boy saw it happen. The article is correct…this is the biggest change in grain handling…loading, hauling, and dumping, in over 50 years.

  4. And I’ll correct my comment on the Santa Fe containers since it is not possible to edit on Newswire.

    The containers could be used for grain or for packaged products. Since they were containers and intended for movement on Santa Fe’s intermodal trains they obviously weren’t “boxcars”.

  5. I was never an Iowa farm boy but; I did work for a grain company in the late ‘70’s and can remember boxcars still being used on some moves from Enid, Oklahoma to an elevator in Eagle Pass, TX.

    I will allow that covered hoppers were almost exclusively used on moves from the Midwest to our export elevator in Houston (with the following noted exception).

    And; as an aside to Mr. Meyer; I recollect we received a 75 car train of Upper Merion & Plymouth open top hoppers that were covered with tarps. The train had come through an area of heavy rain and the bosses directed all able bodied men down to the elevator holding tracks, gave us buckets and sent us on top of the cars to bail water.

    Insofar as innovation; I recollect Santa Fe designed and built a number of containers that could be used either for grain or as boxcars. Only a few prototypes were built and the idea never caught on. This would have been in the early to mid-‘80’s.

  6. Everybody is talking about the gates – but the push to eliminate the roofwalks and automate the hatches? That sounds awesome, if they can make it happen. I was always kinda curious why they didn’t have the hatches attached to some sort of crank handle that runs down the side of the car, so you can open it from the ground without the need to climb up and deal with the risk of falling, and the hassle of fall protection.

  7. I will have to see it in person, but it still looks like that Greenbrier Tsunami is going to have a run in with a high asphalt crossing in its future. The Trinity car still keeps the bottom of the chute at the same level of the axle center. That Tsunami goes well below it it. It appears to be at the same level as the bottom of the truck springs.

    My other thought was that Trinity is using that angled chute underneath which is what promotes rollovers during a derail event. The Greenbrier chute appears flat and wide, which I would guess would help hold the car upright during a derail.

  8. Mark Meyer,

    The point that the person is trying to make, which you either failed to recognize or chose to ignore is that unloading designs for grain carrying covered hopper cars has not really changed since the 1960’s…the comment has nothing to do with grain boxcars, it only specifically refers to the method that grain has been unloaded from covered hoppers for the last 50 odd years.

  9. I recall when new ground breaking cars were introduced graphics covered the sides. Now its just a little non-descript decal. Isn’t anybody proud of the industry nowadays?!

  10. “Nothing has really changed in grain car unloading since the 1960s,” says Vice President International Product Development Peter Jones.

    This person is obviously too young or too ignorant to know anything about grain shipped in boxcars held in place by grain doors back in the 1960s and into the 1970s before covered hoppers became the standard method of transporting grain. I can even remember in the 1970s during a car shortage when grain was shipped (in a pinch) in open-top hoppers. And this “new” type of car is hardly revolutionary – it’s just a derivative on newer covered hoppers that were the same size as the older ones, but carried more product (from 132 tons maximum to 143 tons, including the weight of the car). This is just another 143-ton car (because that’s the current maximum on most routes) that takes up less space.

    Its big selling point should be that it enables running heavier trains without having to increase loop or loading tracks as well as sidings.

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