your milage may vary

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by rogerw, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I am doing some computer, telephone work for a guy. He used to drive semi trucks for a living and brought up a good question. What kind of milage does' a locomotive get compared to a semi. I believe he said a semi gets about 6 miles to the gallon if its running good. How would this compare to a trailer train say pulling 50 to 100 trailers maybe 500 miles? thoughts. thanks
  2. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Railroad fuel consumption isn't based on "miles per gallon" or even gallons per mile like over the road vehicles. Instead it is usually measured in "gallons per hour" and based on different throttle settings. There are just too many variables to measure it otherwise.
  3. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    But is there way to compare it like it took x amout of fuel to pull that trailer by a semi and x amout to pull it the same 500 miles devided by number of trailers on a train. I guess bottom line cost. It must be cheaper to go rail Im guessing.
  4. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    It entirely depends on too many variables. Yes, rail is more fuel efficient than long haul trucking it. The degree of that advantage can widely change, though. What are the grades on the line? Curvature? What locomotives are being used? How many of each? Whats the average speed? Number of starts and stops? What type of intermodal equipment is being used?
  5. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    does UP BNSF tell the customer it will be about ummmmm 500 to 1000 dollars to ship it or are they quoted a amount to ship.
  6. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    RR Facts and Figures "A coal train moving uphill at 11mph with 4 SD40-2 locos on the point and a 2 loco helper shoving on the rear has a fuel efficiency of about 48 feet per gallon."
  7. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Thanks triplex thats what I needed. Let me digest it
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    This may help.

    48 Additional Intermodal Rates Posted to BNSF's Web Site

    Intermodal Rates & Quotes

    Intermodal shipments will continue to grow due to the shortage of truck drivers and raising fuel costs.In fact it is now cheaper to ship by rail then long haul truck.

    Also note worthy is rail shipments are on the raise as well.
  9. myltlpny

    myltlpny Member

    The first post is very interesting in that, using the calculator, the rates are based not so much by mile, but by intermodal unit. I typed in various cities and the rates were all based on a 20 foot container (IMU). It seems weight has little to do with it, except that each container has a maximum tare weight. Therefore, charges must be based on how many containers, fully loaded, a train can carry, irregardless of weight (up to the maximum, of course). That rather makes sense in that the same effort is required to load or unload a container, regardless of weight. The only variable being mileage. Even at that, the various cities I typed in came up with similar rates.
    Interesting post. Thanks Brakie.:thumb:
  10. slekjr

    slekjr Member

    The current industry average is 423 ton miles per gallon of fuel. We do around 500 ton miles per gallon with our Alco S-1 and the GP7 is just slightly less.
    Most of our running is flat ground, not over 10 MPH
  11. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    another comparison chart
    Magtube: Energy Efficiency
    The tube sounds neat but I bet the cost would be crazy high. The rest in the chart are interesting though, thanks
  12. slekjr

    slekjr Member

    When the French were looking at high speed they ruled out MAGLEV because the cost was too high. Now they have the only hi-speed profit making passenger railroad in the world, and it is privately owned.
  13. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    In contrast, an M1A1 Abrams MBT gets arojund one mpg, and that doesn't change when idling since turbine engines run flat out all the time.

    If you are interested in voracious fuel consumption, take some time to look up what it takes to operate an airliner.

    We whine about the diminishing oil supply, but being obsessed with speed, we willingly guzzle fuel by the ton for the simplest of tasks. We are entirely capable of making extremely fuel-efficient machines of all types, we just don't want to.
  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    This would seem to imply that you can move 1 ton of stuff 500 miles on a gallon of fuel, or 500 tons of stuff 1 mile... Am I reading that right, 'cuz that seems awfully good milage!

    I seem to recall that railroads only use about 3/4 to 1 1/2 hp per ton to move things, so that makes you wonder how efficient your 250hp engine is moving a 1.5 ton automobile...

  15. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Railroads have a few efficiency advantages over automobiles. For one, they don't need to accellerate as fast, and don't travel as fast. Remember the national speed limit of 55mph? It was put in place to save fuel, and driving slower certainly does. If I remember my physics correctly, wind drag increases exponentially with speed. Railroads also have an advantage that the lead loco is the only object that needs to break the air. If every rail car was a truck, each truck would have to clear its own path trhough the air. I guess that is why I see trucks convoy together and draft one another. Any truck drivers on the forum?

  16. slekjr

    slekjr Member

    Don't forget that friction on railroads is lower. Thats why it takes so long to stop a train.
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Fuel efficiency is only one of the things that affects the cost of shipping, and it is probably not the most expensive. For a trucking company, the fuel costs are significant, but the cost of the truck and the driver are probably at least 75% of the cost involved. The railroads charge for freight either by the carload or by the trailer or container as the case may be. The train is not limited by weight so much as by overall length. Basically any train has to fit in the passing sidings on the railroad. That is why UPS started MarTrac. It costs just as much to ship an empty trailer across the country as a full one. UPS ships about 75% as many trailer loads from West to East as they do from East to West. That meant that for every 100 trailers they shipped to the West Coast, they had to ship 25 empties back East. They started MarTrac and now ship produce in reefer trailers to the East Coast so that they are not paying to ship empty trailers.
  18. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Very interesting info all. Thanks alot.
  19. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    A very good question that leads to a complicated way to figure out the results. While at this time I have not seen one done for freight I'm sure there is.

    The following are stats from a Amtrak report.

    just trust me you don't even want to try and figure out the math on all of this.

    PM = Passenger-miles. gal = gallons of gasoline equivalent.

    Here are the results along with more recent data reported for Amtrak (includes electric trains)

    1980-39 PM per Gal
    1985 -45
    1990- 48
    2002- 26
  20. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    There is a commercial on TV for freight railroads running recently that has a woman talking about the fuel economy of shipping by rail while trains run behind her. I've only seen it once but I think she made a claim along those lines Andrew. I'll pay more attention if I see it again.


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