Monday, 29 October 2012

Distributed Power - where it stands

So I've banged on about the advantages of DP to the likes of QRN and PN. Lets see what they've got on the ground now. QRN is the clear leader in DP outside of the North America. The company in its previous forms has been using the various incarnations of Locotrol for forty years and its current fleet includes 186 electric locomotives and 124 AC traction narrow gauge diesels fitted with DP. Seven narrow gauge DFZ are currently receiving DP equipment for Western Australian iron ore traffic. On standard gauge QRN has 36 DC and AC traction diesels in Western Austrlalia DP service. That's a total of 353 locomotives - more DPs than some US Class 1 roads. BHP-Billiton has nearly 100 AC and DC traction diesels with DP in the Pilbara and has just ordered 13 E40 AG-V1 AC traction electrics for narrow gauge coal service in Queensland. For its part PN has built up a fleet of 40 GT42CU-AC diesels and 32 E40 AG-V1electric locomotives in narrow gauge distributed power coal service in just four years. So it's pretty clear our major operators possess considerable experience in DP use and its advantages. Further to this many of the locomotives in standard gauge coal and intermodal service are the same models as those being used elsewhere in DP operations - meaning retrofitting is not out of the question.

So why the delay? Traditional operating practices on specific corridors? Cost? Radio signal loss? Loading and unloading issues? Whatever they are the savings DP offers can't be ignored simply because "it's never been tried here." This isn't reinventing the wheel, this is a new industry standard, and those who embrace it will become far more competitive than those who don't. The race should be who gets there first, not who waits to be last.

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