Because of increasing interest and ongoing demand for reducing locomotive emissions, railroads and locomotive manufacturers may become involved in new propulsion technologies (such as fuel cells and new battery technologies) as eventual replacements for diesel-electric locomotives. Railroads and locomotive manufacturers (in the U.S. and elsewhere) have unfortunately had mixed results for decades in successfully introducing new locomotive models, power plants and new locomotive technologies with episodes of unacceptable levels of road failures, and post-delivery underperformance in terms of reliability, maintainability and operability. Occasionally, accumulative failures and performance shortfalls have resulted in excessive maintenance expenses and even premature retirement and scrappage of relatively “young” locomotive assets. A tool that should be used before new designs of locomotives (and locomotives with significant amounts of new technology) enter commercial production is Reliability Growth Testing (RGT). RGT requires and involves having a statistically significant number of “preproduction” locomotives (not experimental prototypes) operated and maintained under “real railroad” conditions (not exclusively at dedicated test facilities). RGT is always preceded by engineering analyses and design, production of preproduction components, test bench and test cell validation, etc, and is always followed by necessary redesign of components experiencing significant failures so that when commercial production is started the products have a high probability of meeting railroad customer expectations and requirements. Failure to do adequate RGT can produce a high risk of post-delivery failure for locomotive (and component) manufacturers, railroads and financial entities that mortgage new locomotives. RGT units can then, in fact, be reconfigured at the conclusion of RGT activity and delivered to a railroad as being “production compliant” units. Once any new locomotive has been “sold to the customer” it becomes a customer asset. Having to modify (“fix”) a marginal or “bad” locomotive design after a railroad customer has accepted it (sometimes multiple times!) is an unacceptable outcome in a locomotive’s early life.

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