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'Smart' Trains Impact Conversion from Truck to Rail

Think hybrids that go 60 miles on a gallon are efficient? Trains can go eight times as far with 2,000 pounds in their backseat. And they're only getting smarter.

'Smart' Trains Impact Conversion from Truck to Rail

Trains are no longer the lumbering hunks of metal of the 20th Century. Today’s locomotives are computers on wheels, and they’re beginning to take business from fuel-guzzling semi-trucks.

“From a longtime standpoint, the continued conversion from truck to rail will continue,” according to GE Transportation CEO Russell Stokes.

GE has developed algorithms that track exactly where trains are and tell the train how much fuel it needs to burn at every moment, taking into account that it cannot come barreling down a hill or flying around a curve. The algorithms' train cruise control cuts fuel costs while making railroads safer, says Stokes.

GE Transportation and Norfolk Southern are also working together to build a software that will serve as an air traffic control for trains all across the country.

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