Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman said that the FRA has approved waiver requests by BNSF Railway and Norfolk Southern Railway to begin equipping and operating trains with ECP brake technology to demonstrate its safety and efficacy.
ECP brakes apply uniformly and virtually instantaneously on every rail car throughout a train and not sequentially from one car to the next as is done with conventional pneumatic brake systems.
The technology can help avert train derailments caused by sudden emergency brake applications, prevent runaway trains caused by loss of brake air pressure and shorten train stopping distances up to 60% under certain circumstances, according to Boardman.
FRA placed several conditions on the waiver approval, including requirements that the railroads clearly define a process for handling brake problems discovered en route, ensure that ECP brake inspections be performed by qualified individuals and provide appropriate training to crew members.
The two railroads are expected to use the waiver to test the brakes on non-passenger trains.