For years, American freight railroads have attempted to eliminate freight train crew injuries when applying and releasing freight car hand brakes. Currently, a person has to crank a handle or turn a wheel while in ergonomically awkward positions to apply a hand brake. If the operator slips or the brake’s mechanisms slip, injuries occur. Also, there are inherent safety issues with the climbing of ladders or steps to operate the brake and the need for going in-between cars to access the brakes. Additionally, today’s hand brakes are applied manually to varying degrees because there is no indicator to tell the crew that the hand brake is fully applied. Many times the hand brake is over applied and becomes damaged. Moreover, a hand brake that is not released upon train movement leads to wheel flats that damage the car, lading, and the track. Wheel set replacement is one of the most costly remediation activities on the railroad and damaged track adversely affects equipment and operations. With the objective of reducing or completely eliminating the issues mentioned above, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has sponsored the development of an ‘Electrically Driven Set & Release Hand Brake’ (EDHB). Under this effort, Sharma & Associates, Inc. (SA) has conducted research into related concepts/products conceptualized and evaluated different arrangements selected a promising concept and developed a prototype. Functional laboratory demonstration tests have been conducted on the prototype. Future plans include working with the industry in developing and implementing performance and testing specifications for the EDHB, and validating the design through lab and field-testing.

You do not currently have access to this content.