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Weight of trains

By | August 1, 2011

Ask Trains from the August 2011 issue

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TRN-AT0811_06
TRN-AT0811_06
The tonnage profile for this Canadian National intermodal train gives overview and detailed information. Ray Weart collection
Q When someone says the “weight of the train is xxx tons,” are they referring to the weight on the rails, or the effort needed to move it? Is there a difference?
— Mike Llewellyn, Shamokin, Pa.

A Yes, yes, and no. When a train crew gives tonnage information to a dispatcher, the information given is usually the total trailing tonnage of the train being pulled by the locomotives. On some tonnage profiles, the train information will be shown both with and without the locomotives, but for train handing purposes, the engineer is interested only in the tonnage being pulled. Tractive effort also is based on trailing tonnage; that is, 1 horsepower per trailing ton. Therefore, a 6,000-ton train will require 6,000 hp of tractive effort. A train’s tonnage profile includes the locomotive consist, loads, empties, tonnage, and total train length.
— Ray Weart, Canadian National locomotive engineer

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