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Western Railroad Discussion > PRB Coal Train Weight

Date: 03/14/02 12:07
PRB Coal Train Weight
Author: zchcsse

For BNSF and UP coal trains that load in the Powder River Basin, what is the average number of tons of coal hauled per train? Thanks!

Tom Merritt

Date: 03/14/02 12:46
RE: PRB Coal Train Weight
Author: annahb

Speaking for UP coal, I get trains that are between 14,500 and
16,000. 112-118 cars. Have had 18,500 with about 130 cars. I
would say average then of 15,500.

Date: 03/14/02 12:49
RE: PRB Coal Train Weight
Author: 3rdswitch

The averade BNSF 130 car loaded coal train weighs in at 18,591 tons, the average empty BNSF 130 car coal train weighs in at 2776 tons, the difference, 15,800 tons of coal.

Date: 03/14/02 15:11
RE: PRB Coal Train Weight
Author: .007

That comes out at 121.5 tons per car. Has this number changed in the past 10 years? I think I recall sitting in the Colorado Springs Station eating lunch and seeing cars go by marked 100 tons load limit. Is this an example of bad memory or does UP run bigger cars?

Date: 03/14/02 15:37
RE: PRB Coal Train Weight
Author: czephyr17

All the railroads (at least BNSF and UP in the west) are running coal (and grain) cars with much higher load capacity than 10 years ago. You are undoubtedly correct in what you saw in Colorado Springs, 100 tons was the capacity with the older steel cars with a maximum gross weight on rail of 263,000 lbs (131.5 tons), but newer cars have a 286,000 lb gross weight limit on rail, and that combined with the use of aluminum has increased the payload per car substantially. Just looking at the Official Railway Equipment Register, for example, I see some TU Electric cars with 235,000 lb (117.5 ton) payload capacity; I am sure there are other that are even higher.

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