The Office of Research and Development of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is sponsoring a project to develop and demonstrate an on-board condition monitoring system for freight trains. The objective of the system is to improve railroad safety and efficiency through continuous monitoring of mechanical components in order to detect defects before they cause breakdowns and accidents. The project, which commenced in June 1999, is part of the Rolling Stock Program Element in FRA’s Five-Year Strategic Plan for Railroad Research, Development and Demonstrations [1]. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Wilcoxon Research (WR) designed and developed a prototype system in 2000. The prototype system was tested during the period Nov. 2000–Nov. 2001 on a vehicle provided by the Research and Tests Department at Norfolk Southern Corporation. A Revenue Service Demonstration is scheduled to commence in October 2003. The monitoring system will be installed on five coal hopper cars and tested in revenue service. Southern Company Service is providing the test cars. The train will operate on a Norfolk Southern line between a coalmine near Berry, AL and an electric power plant, located 35 miles southeast of Birmingham. The demonstration is scheduled to run for six months. The demonstration will showcase some of the latest technologies in wireless communications and railroad bearings. A tri-mode cell telephone will be used for data telemetry between the on-board monitoring system and a web-accessible database. The Timken Company has developed two innovative systems that will be deployed in the demonstration — a permanent magnet generator mounted inside a Class F railroad bearing and bearing health monitoring system featuring temperature and vibration sensors, a tachometer, a micro-controller and an RF transmitter mounted inside a Class F bearing.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.