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Driving Ambition

PublishedFeb 13, 2014
Driving Ambition
Why the new locos are so special: a driver's perspective

By train driver Grant Youd

"We’ve done this Tour De Tassie so the taxpayer can understand where their money has gone, because at the end of the day they’ve paid for these new machines.

These locos have a traction capacity of 2000 horsepower. They’ll run 1600km on a tank of fuel.

The unique thing about these locos is they can be alternated between 16 tonne axle load and 18 tonne axle load.

These are pretty good machines.

One of the biggest things from a driver’s point of view is the quietness of operation – no longer will we have to wear ear plugs and ear muffs, on the West Coast particularly, but the biggest change of all is certainly the dynamic brake.

Over the years the dynamic brake on locos either doesn’t work or it might work for a couple of minutes then kick out which creates a dangerous situation.

These locos have a fantastic dynamic brake. It’s a dual stage dynamic brake, the range of the dynamic brake is far greater, the control is far greater and drivers will be able to use dynamic brake to go down the hills instead of what we call serial braking or power braking which we currently use.

The massive gains for TasRail and the public purse is the fuel efficiency that dynamic braking gives.

It delivers braking effort from the traction motors which are normally used to power the train forward but set in reverse create a braking resistance against the wheels. The locos themselves hold back the train without any train brake so the fuel efficiency and lack of wear on brake locks is obvious. And these are the biggest benefits financially for TasRail.

The other bonus is these things go for ages without having to go in for a service. It’s like when you buy a new car. Because of the lack of requirement for services we can maintain tonnage haulage throughout the state without having to take them offline into workshops.

The down-time is minimal. Basically there are savings all over the place.

Yes there was a massive cost, around $4 million per loco and there are 17 of them coming into the state, hundreds of wagons too, so yes there’s a spend. But the spend compared to the future going forward on the highways is minimal.

Someone had to bite the bullet. These things will give us security of tenure going forward that we can reliably haul the tonnage for the customer, get it from A to B efficiently and cheaply for them as well because we can lower our prices."

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