Technical Reports

Economics of Heavy Axle Loads: Predicted and Actual Benefits of HAL Operations

  • 01
  • Dec
  • 2000
AUTHOR: Semih Kalay, Joe LoPresti
SUBJECT: Facilities & Test Equipment
KEYWORDS: Cost/Benefit Analysis, TTC, Transportation Test Center
ABSTRACT: Over the past 15 years, Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (formerly Research and Test Department of the Association of American Railroads) has devoted a great deal of research to technical and economic issues related to increasing axle loads tinder a program jointly funded by the Association of American Railroads and the Federal Railroad Administration. Much of this research has been based upon the various phases of the Heavy Axle Load Test (HAL) Program conducted at the FRA's Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, Colorado. Phase I of the HAL Program compared the operation of 315,000-pound cars to the operation of 263,000-pound cars over test track at the Facility for Accelerated Service Testing (FAST). Phase I confirmed the feasibility of operating safely with 315,000-pound cars, but it also identified various technical problems that were exacerbated by the heavier cars. In Phase II, additional tests were conducted using premium track components and improved maintenance techniques. In Phase HE, another series of tests was completed using 315,000- pound cars equipped with improved suspension trucks. The analyses consistently recommended 286,000-pound cars as opposed to either 263,000-pound car or 315,000-pound car operations. However, both costs and benefits of HAL operations are highly site specific. Therefore, it is recommended that individual railroads carefully analyze their specific service alternatives.