|2009 - Nov - Formenton - Improving Operational Performance of Freight Trains using Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) Braking|
Chris Formenton Bach of Eng (Mech.), Grad Dip Comp. Eng., RPEQ
Principal Brake Engineer, Queensland Rail
For nearly 140 years the mainstay of train braking has been the automatic air brake system invented by George Westinghouse. Although notable improvements have steadily increased the reliability, safety and effectiveness of the air brake there is only so much that can be done to a system that is reliant on compressed air as both the control and energy medium.
The last 15 years has seen a slow up-take in the use of a relatively new technology for controlling the brake system on freight trains. The new technology is Electronically Controlled Pneumatic braking commonly referred to as ECP braking.
This paper intends to detail the benefits of ECP braking. The main advantages of ECP include, but are not limited to: providing shorter stopping distances; improving train service cycle times; increasing network capacity; enhancing rail safety; fuel savings; as well as reducing wear and tear on rollingstock.
ECP braking can improve both train safety and operations by: reducing in-train forces, making train handling simpler, continuously recharging the train brake system, and providing shorter stopping distances independent of train length. This is because the ECP system communicates electronically with every vehicle in the train. It not only controls the simultaneous gradual application and release of brakes but also advises the driver of the status of each and every vehicle in the train. Combined with Wired Distributed Power (WDP) further improvements can be made to enhance the supply of compressed air through a train’s brake system, reducing in-train forces and bringing about new strategies for managing trains.