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Fuel Efficiency Improvement in Rail Freight Transportation

Report Number: FRA-OR&D-76-136
Author(s): Cetinich, J. N.
Corporate Author: The Emerson Consultants, Inc.
Date of Publication: 1975-12
Pages: 92
Contract: DOT-TSC-1105
PB Number: PB2500673

Railroad diesel fuel conservation is becoming increasingly cost-effective. The price of diesel fuel has increased almost two and one-half times since the October 1973 Embargo. The estimated value of diesel fuel, if in short supply, is over 1 dollar a gallon. A comparison of the fuel performance of 10 selected railroads, before and after the Embargo, showed improvement in net-ton-miles hauled per gallon of diesel fuel. However, some roads used fuel less efficiently from an operating standpoint, as measured in gross-ton-miles per gallon. The most promising immediate avenue for conserving diesel fuel is designing train operating policies specifically to conserve fuel while continuing to provide desired schedule performance. Reducing horsepower-per-ton assignment to trains is a preferable strategy to that of reducing maximum allowable train operating speeds. The key to successful implementation is the appropriate short term regulation of the locomotive fleet. The basic diesel locomotive now used was designed during an era of plentiful fuel supply at a relatively low price. Many features can be improved to provide greater fuel efficiency. Corporate strategies need re-examination in the light of the high cost and uncertain supply of diesel fuel. The control of fuel must be improved and contingencies for a fuel shortage should be planned.

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