The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Power of a Train

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Electric Railroad. World Book Encyclopedia. 6th edition. Chicago:World Book, 2000. "Most electric locomotives weigh between 100 and 200 short tons (90 and 180 metric tons) and provide about 6000 to 7000 horsepower (4500 to 5200 kilowatts)." 4.5–5.2 MW
Pennsylvania Railroad Diesel Locomotive Pictorial Fairbanks-Morse Locomotives. Withers Publishing railroad books. "From the dual-service Erie-builts to the 2,400-horsepower Train Master, all are covered in a variety of roster and action views." 1.8 MW
"Locomotives." McGraw-Hill encyclopedia of Science and Technology. 8th ed. New York, 1997: 179. "[B]y the 1940s huge machines weighing over 300 tons (270 metric tons) were being produced. the locomotives were picked with superheaters, and feedwater heaters to improve their effiency, sander to reduce wheel slippage in situations requiring high tractive effort … they could produce upward of 6000 horsepower." 4.5 MW
Landers, Jim. High-speed train to serve congested Northeast corridor. The Dallas Morning News, 11 December 2000. "Its twin electric locomotives deliver 12,500 horsepower of energy and can take the train from 0 to 150 mph in 3 minutes." 4.6 MW

Trains are one of the most important forms of transportation in the world today. Some are high-speed passenger trains, while others are cargo trains. Electrical trains are probably the most known and used ones. It can not only travel at a high speed but can be run on coal, gas, oil, hydroelectric, nuclear power, or any other form of electric energy. This type of train is very useful since it can take energy from a variety of natural resources. Another advantage of the electrical train is that it's very quiet and does not produce smoke or exhaust.

Some trains have a locomotive, which is a steam engine placed on wheels. This locomotive is what provides the power for that train to move. While others have an electric traction motor in their propulsion system, which serves the same purpose as the locomotive. The Scottish inventor Robert Davidson built the first full-sized electric-locomotive in the early 1800s.

The power which a locomotive or a traction motor provide for the train is measured in watts, which is an SI (International System) unit. It was named watts in honor of James Watt who was a developer of the steam engine. horsepower (hp) is another unit that measures power and is mostly used to specify the power provided by electric motors and internal combustion engines. The conversion between the two is that one horsepower equals 746 watts. Therefore, to get from horsepower to watts, multiply by 746 and to get from watts to horsepower divide by 746. In most trains, the power ranges anywhere between 5000 to 7000 horsepower.

Radmila Ilyayeva -- 2001

Bibliographic Entry Result
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Hartill, Lane. Hop aboard a 130-ton 'hog'. Christian Science Monitor. 21 January 2001. "The locomotive's diesel-electric power plant is 3,000 horsepower (a typical automobile is about 130 horsepower). The train's power plant is as big as a school bus." 2.2 MW
Keller, Bob. CTT Online Exclusive: MTH RailKing's Union Pacific "Big Blow" turbine. "The railroad had 30 of these 8,500 horsepower units, all made by General Electric from 1958-1960. In 1964 their power rating was increased to 10,000 hp per unit and they were also equipped for multiple unit (m.u.) operation with other turbines (though they were more likely to M.u. with diesels)." 6.3 MW
7.5 MW
Keller, Bob. MTH RailKing Gold and ProtoSound 2.0 GG1 locomotives. "The prototype GG1, no. 4800, hit the rails in 1934 and amazed even the engineers that developed it. It could generate 4,620 continuous horsepower at 100 mph and for short surges could reach 9,000 horsepower." 3.2 MW
6.7 MW

Nida Bhatti -- 2001

Bibliographic Entry Result
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CSXT Unveils The World's Most Powerful Single-Engine Locomotive, CSXT Press Release, 13 September 1996. "Designed and built by GE Transportation Systems of Erie, Pa., in partnership with CSX Transportation, the high-adhesion, six-axle locomotive is equipped with a complete alternating current (AC) traction system rated at 6000 horsepower traction, at a cost of over $2 million each. The AC6000 offers the highest traction rating ever produced in a single-engine freight locomotive - 166,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort, or pulling power." 4.5 MW
Locomotive Info Sheets, General Electric Transporatation Systems. [see tables below] 1.9–4.7 MW
Fast Facts, General Electric Transporatation Systems. "1958. The world's largest internally-powered locomotive, a 10,000 hp gas turbine electric locomotive, is shipped to Union Pacific." 7.5 MW
  Engine Height Length Width Power Weight Max.
AC6000 GE7HDL 15' 3 76' 9' 11 6,000 hp 425,000 lbs. 75 mph
AC4400 GE7FDL 15' 5 73' 2 9' 11 4,400 hp 420,000 lbs. 75 mph
Dash 9 GE7FDL 15' 4 73' 8 10' 4,400 hp 387,250 lbs. 65 mph
Dash 8 GE7FDL 15' 4.5 70' 8 10' 2.7 4,000 hp 410,000 lbs. 65 mph
Dash 7 GE7FDL 15' 4.5 67' 3 10' 2.7 3,000 hp 420,000 lbs. 65 mph
Passenger GE7FDL 14' 6 69' 10' 4,000 hp 274,000 lbs. 103 mph
Specifications GE7FDL GE7HDL
16 Cylinder HP 4,500 6,250
Gross KW/Cylinder 210 291
RPM 1,050 1,050
Bore (mm) 229 250
Stroke (mm) 267 320
Stroke/Bore Ratio 1.17 1.28
Compression Ratio 12.7 15.0
Liters/Cylinder 10.95 15.71
BMEP (kgf/cm2) 22.14 21.21
  GDY85 AC 787/788
Alternator 1 GTS 34 1 GTA 26
Wheels 2 GDY85 2 787/788
Control System GTO inverter AC Statex III DC
Max. Gross Vehicle Weight 530 tons 425 tons
Max. Speed 35 mph 35 mph
Peak Horse Power 2,500 hp 2,500 hp

Editor's Supplement -- 2002