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Covered unit coal trains

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Covered unit coal trains
Posted by railfan68 on Saturday, August 18, 2012 6:51 PM

Is anyone aware of any unit coal trains that have the loads covered to prevent dust escaping or contamination in the US?

If so, what sort of covers do they use?

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Posted by Vern Moore on Sunday, August 19, 2012 3:41 PM

Milwaukee Road ran a unit coal train for hauling lignite coal with covered cars.  I don't know if that train is still running today with a Milwaukee successor or not.

The cars had hinged tops and an arm attached to the top.  As the cars went through the loader the arm was pushed to the hinged side, which lifted the top open.

For dust control on most other coal operations they coal is sprayed with a sort of adhesive just after being loaded.  The adhesive prevents dust from blowing off the coal, but it isn't a strong enough adhesive to cause the coal to clump.

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Posted by PigFarmer1 on Sunday, August 19, 2012 8:08 PM

I know BNSF runs at least one coal train that is tarped.  I was really disappointed when I saw it because I thought it was an idea I could sell to my carrier.  Why we don't tarp our trains is beyond me since we have such a problem with fouled ballast due to coal dust.  It would certainly be cheaper to use tarps as opposed to spending millions of dollars on undercutting.  Oh well, not my call.

Lawsuits by homeowners upset about the coal dust could speed up the tarping process.  The railroad has monitoring stations to track the movement of the coal dust because of pending lawsuits.

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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, August 19, 2012 8:23 PM

I would not be surprised if regulators force dust mitigation onto the industry.  It might be accomplished by spraying the load with an anti-dust coating, or covering it.

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Posted by CShaveRR on Sunday, August 19, 2012 9:14 PM

Vern, those cars used on the MILW trains have been sold off and de-roofed for years.  There were 262 of them owned by the Otter Tail Power Company (BSPX 201-462), most of which were sold to the David J. Joseph Company in 1996.  They were later used for "dirty dirt" service for a while, now they're probably in scrap service.

Pig Farmer, are you sure you aren't seeing those aluminum Bethgons with green rotary-coupler ends that are used for distiller-grain service?  Those are ordinary coal gons, but equipped with the tarps.

Carl

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, August 19, 2012 9:22 PM

The comment about spraying a sealer (adhesive) on the coal to manage dust reminds me of reading about the "Blue Coal Company" (or something like that) which apparently sprayed the tops of their loads with something blue.  Whether it was sufficient to control dust is unknown.

While it would certainly add a major step to loading facilities, it occurs to me that washing the coal would tend to remove some dust, if not most.  Methinks that the coal dust could be recovered and formed into lumps not unlike charcoal.

Of course, dust created by the movement of the coal in the car itself is a different story.

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Posted by Falcon48 on Sunday, August 19, 2012 10:07 PM

Bucyrus

I would not be surprised if regulators force dust mitigation onto the industry.  It might be accomplished by spraying the load with an anti-dust coating, or covering it.

 

There has, in fact, been major regulatory litigation before STB inolving coal dust mitigation measures imposed by BNSF for traffic originating on the PRB, which is still ongoing.  Briefly, in a March 3, 2011 decision, STB accepted BNSF's contentions that coal dust is a serious problem and that the railroad is entitled to require shippers to take measures to suppress these emissions.  However, the Board did not like what they saw as the indefiniteness of the meaures BNSF initially imposed by tariff.  Since then, BNSF has revised its tariff to create "safe harbors" for certain coal dust suppressant technologies.  Litigation over these meaures is ongoing. 

This all arose from a series of derailments on the PRB coal line caused by ballast foulded by coal dust.

For furrter information, see the STB decisions at the following web addresses:

http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readingroom.nsf/fc695db5bc7ebe2c852572b80040c45f/3bdd891ff0ccc1fb8525794f006db7c9?OpenDocument

 http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/ReadingRoom.nsf/WEBUNID/79B5382AE20F7930852578480053111F?OpenDocument

 

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Posted by tdmidget on Monday, August 20, 2012 12:47 AM

"While it would certainly add a major step to loading facilities, it occurs to me that washing the coal would tend to remove some dust, if not most.  Methinks that the coal dust could be recovered and formed into lumps not unlike charcoal."

Since on the consignee's end it gets pulverized to a talcum powder consistency, What would this do for efficiency?

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Posted by CShaveRR on Monday, August 20, 2012 8:50 AM

People who are used to seeing washed, sized, and chunky eastern coal might be surprised to know that PRB coal is just "run of mine", with a large content of just powder, as it is loaded.  That's why dust is such a problem out there.  While filtering out and making briquettes of this dust might seem practical, it would be far easier to put whatever bonding agent that process would use as a spray over the top of a load.

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Posted by PigFarmer1 on Monday, August 20, 2012 11:24 AM

CShaveRR

People who are used to seeing washed, sized, and chunky eastern coal might be surprised to know that PRB coal is just "run of mine", with a large content of just powder, as it is loaded.  That's why dust is such a problem out there.  While filtering out and making briquettes of this dust might seem practical, it would be far easier to put whatever bonding agent that process would use as a spray over the top of a load.

  You, sir, are correct.  On windy days we get pelted by the stuff when coal loads go by us.  I remember a very windy day last year up in the PRB when we were traveling our machines.  It was painful getting hit by those little chips of coal.  We dreaded every eastbound we saw coming at us because we knew it was going to hurt.  You come in in the morning and the seat on your machine will have little grains of coal all over it.Grumpy

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, August 20, 2012 3:53 PM

tdmidget

"While it would certainly add a major step to loading facilities, it occurs to me that washing the coal would tend to remove some dust, if not most.  Methinks that the coal dust could be recovered and formed into lumps not unlike charcoal."

Since on the consignee's end it gets pulverized to a talcum powder consistency, What would this do for efficiency?

Dunno - I guess it would depend if there was a market for such briquettes.  If there's not, then there's no sense doing it.  It was just a thought.

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Posted by carnej1 on Monday, August 20, 2012 7:18 PM

Bucyrus

I would not be surprised if regulators force dust mitigation onto the industry.  It might be accomplished by spraying the load with an anti-dust coating, or covering it.

It's actually not just the big,bad G driving the issue..in the Powder River Basin the BNSF/UP consortium has had some huge maintenance headaches over coal dust contaminating the ballast..

There was at least one in-depth article in "TRAINS" in the last 2-3 years. IIRC, the railroads were proposing passing the added maintenance costs on to the mine operators (who, O.C would pass them onto the utilities buying the coal).

 I believe the upshot was that some of the mines started spraying the top of loaded gons with a substance that makes the dust "stick" better to the load..

Anyone know more about this?

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Posted by PigFarmer1 on Monday, August 20, 2012 7:50 PM

carnej1

Bucyrus

I would not be surprised if regulators force dust mitigation onto the industry.  It might be accomplished by spraying the load with an anti-dust coating, or covering it.

It's actually not just the big,bad G driving the issue..in the Powder River Basin the BNSF/UP consortium has had some huge maintenance headaches over coal dust contaminating the ballast..

There was at least one in-depth article in "TRAINS" in the last 2-3 years. IIRC, the railroads were proposing passing the added maintenance costs on to the mine operators (who, O.C would pass them onto the utilities buying the coal).

 I believe the upshot was that some of the mines started spraying the top of loaded gons with a substance that makes the dust "stick" better to the load..

Anyone know more about this?

I know that if they're doing this it isn't working.  We always have undercutters working where coal moves in high volume because coal dust is constantly fouling the ballast which creates mudholes.  Coal dust= job security for guys like me.

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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, August 23, 2012 3:23 PM

I was unable to locate a earlier thread, but I believe there are also significant benefits to having the cars covered when returnining empty as well.

 

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, August 23, 2012 3:45 PM

carnej1

Bucyrus

I would not be surprised if regulators force dust mitigation onto the industry.  It might be accomplished by spraying the load with an anti-dust coating, or covering it.

It's actually not just the big,bad G driving the issue..in the Powder River Basin the BNSF/UP consortium has had some huge maintenance headaches over coal dust contaminating the ballast..

There was at least one in-depth article in "TRAINS" in the last 2-3 years. IIRC, the railroads were proposing passing the added maintenance costs on to the mine operators (who, O.C would pass them onto the utilities buying the coal).

 I believe the upshot was that some of the mines started spraying the top of loaded gons with a substance that makes the dust "stick" better to the load..

Anyone know more about this?

 

Yes, the railroads have their own stake in eliminating coal dust because of ballast fouling.  But I would not expect the government to overlook the coal dust issue.  It is made to order for government regulation.  So while the railroads fight with the shippers over who should pay for the dust damage to the railroads, the government is likely to step in and force the issue for the purpose of simply eliminating environmental dust.   

We had a thread on this topic a while back, and there were at least two different car cover systems that we looked at.  In addition to car covers and over-spraying the load with a dust stabilizer, there is also the process of vibrating the load to settle the fines and get them below the coarser material at the surface. 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, August 24, 2012 9:52 PM

CShaveRR

Vern, those cars used on the MILW trains have been sold off and de-roofed for years.  There were 262 of them owned by the Otter Tail Power Company (BSPX 201-462), most of which were sold to the David J. Joseph Company in 1996.  They were later used for "dirty dirt" service for a while, now they're probably in scrap service.

Pig Farmer, are you sure you aren't seeing those aluminum Bethgons with green rotary-coupler ends that are used for distiller-grain service?  Those are ordinary coal gons, but equipped with the tarps.

   From time to time out here in So Central Kansas on the BNSF Transcon there have been trains such as Carl has described ( Green Painted Rotary Ends with cloth tarps flapping up and down) .

   Not a regular appearance but occasionally, seen/ primarily Westbound. No idea what they are carrying.

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by CShaveRR on Saturday, August 25, 2012 5:12 PM

Animal gluten feed.  I just checked my records.  I've found three sets of cars in this service:

GGPX 1602-1731 (130 cars):  Built by Freight Car America, 1-2/05.

TILX 42565-42684 (120 cars):  Built by Trinity Industries, 11/06.

SBTX 33001-33245 (245 cars):  Built by Freight Car America, 4-5/09.

The FCA cars have yellow-green rotary-coupler ends; the Trinity-built cars' rotary-coupler ends are a slightly darker green.

Carl

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CAACSCOCOM--I don't want to behave improperly, so I just won't behave at all. (SM)

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