A Close Look at Locomotives: Genscape Furthers Crude-By-Rail Education

Blog July 28, 2014

On Saturday, July 19th, in order to further Genscape’s education on the railroads and to support Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana, Jason Fuchs (Genscape Engineer) and Chris Ottinger (Information Technologist) took a trip in a locomotive on the Paducah and Louisville (PAL) Railway. The trip was one of several “unique experiences” offered in Junior Achievement’s annual auction. They boarded a pair of inter-connected locomotives at PAL’s Louisville terminal, traveled to a 100-year-old wooden rail trestle near West Point, and then turned around and came back, for a round trip total of 52 miles. 

The PAL is a full-service, 265-mile, regional railroad that handles a broad range of commodities, serves over 90 industries, and handles approximately 200,000 car loads annually, originating or terminating 99% of these loads. The most frequent commodity handled is coal, and the PAL makes many trips between the coal fields of western Kentucky and power plants located along the Ohio River. 

The two locomotives were both 1970’s-era models built by GM’s Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) division. They were either GP40-2 or SD40-2 models and each was powered by a 2,000-3,000 horsepower engine. The engines power generators rather than being directly coupled to the drivetrain. Thus, everything on the locomotive, including the motors, is run from electricity (either AC or DC) or pressurized air. The rail industry in the U.S., is operated on tried and tested technology to ensure safety and reliability. The cabs of these locomotives were functional and uncluttered; lots of different levers for controlling the air brakes and the throttle, and radios for communicating between the crew members. The engineer and conductor rely on their experience and knowledge to get from point A to point B safely and on time. Many thanks to Junior Achievement and the Paducah and Louisville Railway for hosting us! It was an interesting trip and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Genscape is always conducting research into how we can provide better data as crude-by-rail becomes increasingly important to the oil market. Download a free sample of a recent PetroRail Report for information on crude-by-rail in North America. The weekly report provides pricing data, an Albany crude pricing assessment, producer netbacks, transportation costs, loading and unloading data, and more. To learn more or to request a free trial of the PetroRail Report, click here.