A Train Locomotive Is Pulling Two Cars – So today we are talking about trains. Isn’t it exciting to watch how one locomotive pulls dozens of cars at such incredible speed! I remember when I was a child, I would sit on the train platforms waiting for a fast train and enjoy the loud sound of the locomotives and the gusts of wind. Ah, those were the days!
Anyway, let’s find out why some trains have multiple locomotives, or rather why trains have locomotives in the back, because that’s what you came here for.
A Train Locomotive Is Pulling Two Cars
Well, the answer to the first question is simple. If the train carries a larger load, a second locomotive is attached. But does it really matter whether it’s attached to the front or the back?
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Such a system, in which a second or many other main engines are connected at the rear and/or distributed along the entire train, is called a distributed power system. All commuter trains, subways and modern electric trains are excellent examples of DP systems where the engines are located at both ends as well as in the middle of the trains.
Additional power and locomotives are usually needed for freight trains due to heavy loads and rarely for passenger trains. But again, the question arises, why the rear?
Imagine a situation where a freight train is traveling downhill. A very high torque is required to move the entire train due to the incline and heavy load. This high torque can cause the front of the locomotive to spin around the rear wheels. The best example you can imagine is lifting the front end of a muscle car or cyclist that accelerates hard (high torque).
For trains, the engine will not lift up and lose contact with the rails because it is very heavy, but it will certainly reduce the normal reaction, which results in reduced friction. And low friction results in low power output.
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Consider another case, when the locomotive is coupled to the last car. The cornering problem is largely eliminated as the rear engine already pushes the cars forward. Along with this, the vertical component of the weight of all cars pushes against the front of the rear engine, causing more friction.
Note that the turning problem would be less, but still present, if both engines were positioned forward.
The engine and carriages are connected by a hook-and-loop joint (India). When the locomotive pulls the entire train uphill, the coupler at the head of the train must take the entire load. This makes the hinge vulnerable to drawbar and pivot failure.
Attaching the rear engine reduces the risk of failure as it pushes the whole train and reduces the load.
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Also, during descent, the entire load is carried by the hinge at the end of the tail. Therefore, the location of the high stress area is constantly changing and ensures that not only one part is under high stress, which reduces the number of part failures.
Imagine a freight train driven by 2 locomotives in front. If, for any reason, the connection between any two carriages is broken while crossing the terrain, the part not pulled by the engine becomes “dead weight”. The train then begins to descend in the opposite direction with a very high momentum. This can lead to disaster! 🙁
Rear and front, both parts of the train would be under control if the rear was attached to the locomotive instead of the front. So this is one of the many advantages of connecting the motor backwards – Safety!
When the train stops at a station, all the gap between the couplings is removed, and the tension between the drawbars of the cars remains unchanged. This means that when the locomotive moves forward, it will have to move the entire train at the same time. This is similar to the scenario of trying to stretch an already stretched spring.
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Overcoming the friction and inertia of the entire train at the same time will require enormous power and strength. The trick is that the rear locomotive pushes all the cars behind to compress all the clutches and let them loosen. Now, as the engine moves forward, it moves the load one car at a time. With this method, the train uses less energy/fuel to run. In passenger trains or trains with only 1 locomotive in front, this is done by changing the direction of feed.
Fact of the day: You need multiple locomotives front and rear to fully load freight trains, but you don’t need multiple locomotive pilots. All locomotives can be controlled by the pilot / driver of the locomotive sitting in the first cab!
Well, if you were wondering, I’m sure my next article will be more interesting – How Do Trains Turn? Because you can’t drive them like cars 😛
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