• 315 000 lbs freight cars. How common?

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

  by bengt
How common are fully loaded 315.000 lbs freight cars on American railroads?
  by DutchRailnut
It depends on how many axles to spread that load over, but most railroads here at north east are restricted to 263 000 Lbs because of bridge restrictions.
  by jogden
The number of axles on a car determines the maximum weight. Each railroad has specific maximum allowed weights depending on their infrastructure. When I worked on BNSF, we were allowed to have cars up to 143 tons, which is 286, 000 pounds, but we were allowed to have a certain number of overweight cars, loaded to 144 tons, as long as they were not next to each other in the train.

On Alaska Railroad, 263,000 pounds is the maximum, but again, we can have some overweight cars in the train, up to 268,000 pounds, as long as they are not coupled to each other, and as long as there are not more than five in the train.

All of the above weight restrictions are for typical, four axle freight cars though. When it comes to specialty cars with more axles, things are different. Usually specialty cars fall under the "Excessive Dimensions" category and must get special clearance over the intended route prior to moving, especially if they are overweight. We had a 20 axle depressed center Schnabel flat car in Alaska last fall to move some generators. The maximum weight stenciled on that car was in excess of 900,000 pounds, although the loads it carried here were just over 500,000 pounds. It was well below the weight limit for the car, but prior to moving that kind of a load, someone had to verify that our bridges could handle that kind of weight, even spread out over 20 axles. Every time the train ran with that car loaded, there were speed restrictions placed on it, more speed restrictions on a couple of the larger bridges it crossed, and the crew had to have clearance paperwork because the weight was considered an excessive dimension.

So it can be done, but extremely heavy cars are pretty uncommon.
  by BobLI
How did they get the special flatcar to Alaska? A special barge to float it there or did it fit on a regular RR barge?
  by jogden
BobLI wrote:How did they get the special flatcar to Alaska? A special barge to float it there or did it fit on a regular RR barge?
The regular barges have accommodations for "high-wide" loads. I am not sure if this flatcar required high-wide accommodations since it was shipped up here empty, and I did not see it until it was safely back on terra firma.

The barges that go to Seattle all have eight parallel tracks on them, about 420 feet long. Between tracks four and five there is another track, often called track nine. Tracks four and five have normal clearances (well, for the barge), so when they are used, the equipment on them would be over track nine. Track nine basically doubles the maximum width, but using it obviously means that four and five are fouled and cannot be used. There are stantions on the barge that allow containers to be lashed above the rail cars, and the area above tracks four and five (and nine) is set up so that containers can be stacked significantly higher if needed, or not at all, allowing a very tall load in there. It is pretty rare that we ship equipment that is significantly larger than the average freight equipment on the barge. While auto carriers and double stack equipment would fit, it almost never comes up here.