Do you remember the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster that occurred in 2013? Well, this is one of the most heinous locomotive failures in the rail and railway industry. Other events include the Gogoma, Ontario derailment of 2015, the Clair, Sask, and Plaster Rock, N.B derailments in 2014.

While most of these locomotive failures were major due to human interactions with technology, others have been associated with mechanical failure and negligence.

Indeed, locomotive incidences are not as common as other transport issues. This explains why they’ll always be treated as major threats any time they emerge. The industry has seen great policy developments and technological changes aimed at reducing future locomotive failures.

Here are five ways you can avoid locomotive failures:

  •  Enhance Your Locomotive Safety Measures

Safety is key whenever you want to maintain your locomotive and avoid mechanical and operational failures. The  Lac-Mégantic accident only presents a clear confirmation that safety should be a number 1 priority any time you want to minimize or prevent locomotive failures.

You wouldn’t want to attach your locomotive to a carriage or tank cars vulnerable to failures, then just assume that everything will be okay. Weak attachments could cause safety issues and possible failures even in unlikely scenarios.

Locomotive safety has emerged as a priority issue for stakeholders in the railway industry in their efforts to curb operational failures. Basic topics like subjecting locomotive operators to more in-depth training sessions and embracing stricter rules and regulations can play a crucial role in filling the elements that lead to failures.

Similarly, you may make it a requirement for key stakeholders in the locomotive industry to take advantage of the agencies in their jurisdictions to oversight safety issues and avoid possible locomotive failures. Agencies like the Federal Railroad Administration have fostered locomotive safety by tracking inspections, overseeing the operational capability of the railroad equipment, tracking the speeds at which the locomotives operate, and employee qualifications.

The core idea to ensure that you are accounting for failure in your locomotives and implementing your railway infrastructure design and processes in a way that helps you to push back against potential issues that may occur within your locomotives.

  • Enhance the Braking System within Your Locomotives

Imagine a scenario where a locomotive carrying flammable goods faces brake failures them runs into a village to cause unspeakable accidents. In the real sense, poor braking systems are a major cause of locomotive failures all over the globe.

This explains why the United States has made it a requirement for locomotives carrying flammable goods to enhance their braking systems. Any locomotive hauling a continuous block of 20 tank cars should have a fully functional two-way end-of-train (EOT) device in the rules. The EOT devices, in this case, act as electronic units mounted at the end of a freight train as a replacement of a caboose. 

The EOT initiates an innovative spread of the braking through different parts of the locomotive.

 In essence, the EOT innovations aid locomotives to have a more controlled braking behavior by instilling a more responsive application of the brake pressure. These technologies allow the locomotives to benefit from short stopping distances, decreased pile-up effects, and reduced derailment risks.

  • Swift Communication and Information Sharing In Locomotives

Nothing causes messes in the transport industry like poor communication, concealing information, and poor information sharing strategies. In the real sense, information sharing in the locomotives sector fosters better decision-making, particularly in scenarios requiring proper emergency planning and response measures.

The assigned agencies must provide accurate information for accurate product classification, record keeping, and packaging by embracing thorough sampling and testing strategies. Such data presents stakeholders in the locomotive industry with an ample opportunity to initiate apt responses any time they anticipate that failures will occur.

Remember that locomotive failure is a result of issues that go wrong across the general value chain. Further, a core component of the value chain is regular communication regarding potential points of failure, locomotive power, railway elements, railroad aspects, engineer reports, and factors relating to engines within the freight shipping industry.

  • Instilling Thorough Checks on Human Factors

The interaction between rail and railway systems and human factors plays a great role in fostering locomotive failures. Crucially speaking, the technologies developed to minimize locomotive disasters are under the control of the human element.

This explains why you must never ignore the roles played by human factors in fostering locomotive safety.

In essence, it is the human factor that ensures that each of the locomotive systems is fully functional. This reveals the need to ensure proper interactions between the human element and the technologies meant to eliminate locomotive failures.


  • Ensure that the Locomotive Value Chain Gets Regular Servicing and Checks to Ensure Motive Power

There’s nothing as hurting as facing locomotive failure cases because you were so ignorant that you skipped your regular servicing and checking schedules.

In essence, embracing timely checks and servicing schedules could be the most effective way of limiting the chances that your locomotive will experience cases of failure. Your locomotive manufacturer will provide you with a detailed servicing and maintenance protocol that you must adhere to.

You may only avoid exposing your locomotive to the risk of facing operational and system failures by embracing the servicing and maintenance protocol recommended by your manufacturer.

In essence, these servicing and maintenance schedules will help you keep your locomotive in the best possible condition. It would be a great idea to ensure that a trained expert or the manufacturer only undertakes the maintenance processes.

Servicing and maintenance of locomotives involve preserving the working condition of the locomotive and may take preventive, corrective, or predictive operations.

Here are some of the locomotive maintenance procedures you need to follow to avoid locomotive failures:

Locomotive cleaning and stabling– Cleaning involves taking the locomotive through regular exterior washes, vacuuming, and dusting. On the other hand, stabling involves instilling reinforcements to maintain the physical and structural conditions of the locomotive.

Wheel Lathing– Wheel lathing involves profiling the moving sections of the locomotive. In essence, lathing minimizes locomotive failures by reducing friction and maintaining proper motion among the moving parts and wheel joints.

Maintenance plays a critical role in reducing locomotive failures. It would be great to program your locomotive maintenance procedures by considering the mileage, conditioning assessment, and time.

While traditional locomotive maintenance operations were conducted based on time (after every ‘X’ months), condition monitoring has emerged as a new and most effective strategy of initiating servicing and monitoring.

Keep The Locomotive Clean and Free of Debris

It is necessary to ensure that each part of the locomotive process is streamlined and efficient. One can ensure that the engine, the railway, and the railroad system, in general, are clean and free of debris. These repair and cleaning measures can help add value to the long-term running of the equipment, engines.

Remember that this crucial step of cleaning engines, the track, the station, and other operating system elements ensures long-term success and minimizes organization and station issues.

When Conduct Several Cleaning Processes and Check all Connections to Make Sure They Are Tight and Not Corroded

The core point here is that it is necessary to instill organization in your processes to get the best results. A simple but necessary part of your locomotive system ensures that your connections are tight and not corroded.

As you pay attention to cleaning and removing debris, you will also see those other elements on the menu or checklist are taken care of. From main systems to navigation and other aspects that include minor elements. You can see the several minor issues that appear now and then account for them as part of your railway operating processes.

As you are not checking all connections to ensure that they are tight and not corrupted, you can ensure that motive power, service, and everything is up to par.

Replace Any Broken or Worn Parts Such as Hoses or Belts

When you invest time replacing any broken or worn parts such as hoses or bolts, you can account for key features of the railroad aspect. Ensure to have a regular report on the status of the railway system to maintain motive power and minimize failure during normal major operating processes and procedures.

Perform Routine Maintenance Checks on the Engine, Fuel Tank, and Cooling System

When you can institute routine maintenance checks on the engine, the fuel tank, and the cooling system, you ensure to keep the train in the best working condition, thus, minimizing your chances of failure in your engine, delaying service, and having further issues in freight movement.

Ensure to have a system where various stakeholders within your railway operation will assess the railroad service and look at the status of the engine, the power, and other elements as part of a regular operating report.

These regular checks and report processes will enable you to have a full view of the history of the checks, the number of issues, and severity of major problems and how it has affected and may affect the railroad service in the present or the future.

Have your crew provide report the history regularly to avoid major issues in the present or the future.

Have Your Locomotive Inspected by a Professional Engineer or Respective Professional at Least Once Per Year for Safety Purposes

This number of inspections within a decade is necessary to ensure that major issues within your trains and your railway system are minimized or negated. The right inspector will understand exactly what to look for and have a full understanding of the world of locomotives. They have a menu of items that they want to check and ask several questions as they conduct their inspections to ensure that everything is on track.

Of course, they would take a few hours, ask for a record, and would make sure to include main systems as a part of their inspection.

These are a few elements to think about when conducting railway operations to have the best results. They may seem like straightforward operating processes but while these six or more suggestions may seem simple, they can ensure to minimize failure and maximize effectiveness and efficiency for the long term.