NS: Saving Fuel with LEADER
Norfolk Southern continues to advance development of LEADER train-handling technology, the railroad’s flagship fuel-efficiency initiative.
In late 2014, the company piloted a new auto-control feature that enables LEADER to automatically adjust a locomotive’s throttle speed and dynamic braking. Rollout of the new feature is occurring during 2015, starting on the railroad’s Georgia Division.
Before auto-control, a “prompt” on a computer screen advised locomotive engineers of fuel-saving opportunities. The engineer had to react to the prompt, decide what to do, and then physically adjust the throttle and dynamic brake settings.
LEADER’s auto-control feature is similar to automobile cruise control. All locomotive engineers need to do is turn on auto-control at the start of a train run, enabling LEADER to make speed and brake adjustments. By removing human reaction time from the equation, the company expects auto-control to generate additional fuel savings.
What is LEADER
LEADER, Locomotive Engineer Assist Display Event Recorder, is train-handling software integrated into locomotive operating systems. The GPS-based LEADER monitors a train’s operating conditions and calculates the speed and dynamic braking required for maximum fuel efficiency. Train crews use an onboard touch-screen computer to operate LEADER.
While fuel savings vary depending on train weight and length, track profile, and other operating factors, LEADER-equipped locomotives have achieved fuel-efficiency gains averaging 5 percent.