CPR to operate remote-control locomotives on intermodal freight trains

by Canadian Shipper

Canadian Pacific Railway says it is the first railway in Canada to operate intermodal freight trains with mid-train remote-control locomotives.

Mimicking the control inputs of engineers in leading locomotives, the remote-control units enable CPR to run intermodal trains approaching three kilometers in length through the winter when they were previously shortened
because of air-pressure loss in colder temperatures, says CPR.

Since 1995 all new main-line locomotives ordered by CPR have been equipped to operate in leading or remote-control configuration.

The remote-control locomotives are a cornerstone of the railway’s campaign to completely transform its intermodal service, CPR is also reconstituting its intermodal fleet, putting in service 5,500 new cars that can carry double-stacked containers. With the new cars, CPR says it will have a standardized fleet capable of handling any size of container in any load configuration, and will do away with older cars that are less flexible.

The net result is expected to be an estimated 28 % increase in containers per train and 16 % decrease in intermodal train starts. CPR says it expects to reduce its overall intermodal rail car fleet by about 1,300 cars without losing capacity, while lowering train-crew costs and improving service reliability, especially during the more challenging winter period.

About 2,000 of the new intermodal cars will be in service by the end of this month. The remainder will arrive in 2004.

CPR says it pioneered the use of remote-control locomotive technology in its western-Canada coal trains in the 1970s, making it possible to safely operate trains through the mountains at lengths previously thought impossible. The
advent of high-capacity trains was a key development in helping Canada’s coal industry overcome its competitive disadvantage of being located a long way from ocean shipping ports. CPR will now adapt the same concept to the
intermodal market, the fastest-growing railway market and one that is highly service-sensitive.

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