CN unveils improvements to its locomotive control system

by Canadian Shipper

Canadian National has introduced a new generation of operator control units (OCU) for the Beltpack locomotive remote control system it uses in Canada.

Beltpack is a computer-based locomotive remote control system for. The technology, which uses a radio link and a portable control unit, enables two operators to operate a switching assignment safely, by use of an onboard computer. CN says using the locomotive remote control system has resulted in a major reduction in the number of yard incidents.

Designed and manufactured by CN’s Canac subsidiary, the new OCUIIe is significantly smaller, lighter and ergonomically improved over the previous unit, according to CN.

The OCUIIe weighs just 3.4 pounds, compared to 6.8 pounds for its predecessor – a 44 per cent reduction in weight and 39 per cent reduction in total size.

The new operator control unit is the result of more than a year’s close co-operation and teamwork involving Canac, CN management and field operations employees, UTU representatives, as well as ergonomists and kinesiologists.

“The drive behind developing the new OCU was weight and comfort,” said Jack McBain, senior vice-president, operations at CN. “With input from CN’s employees performing switching assignments using the Beltpack, Canac and the design team provided an ergonomically-designed, lighter and safer OCU. ”

Implementation of the new operator control unit has commenced in Montreal’s Taschereau Yard with delivery of the first 40 units that will account for the implementation on the eastern Canada Division’s Champlain Region. Implementation in all of CN’s main yards, including Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, will be completed during 2001.

In all, 250 new OCUs will be delivered to CN. Presently, CN has over 125 yard locomotives equipped with the Beltpack locomotive remote control system, making it the largest user of locomotive remote control systems in North America.

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