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Americans are developing next-generation high-strength steel railcars. Market leaders come together for a joint project.

Americans are developing next-generation high-strength steel railcars. Market leaders come together for a joint project.
photo: Greenbrier press materials/Americans are developing next-generation high-strength steel railcars. Market leaders come together for a joint project.
16 / 12 / 2021

Three of America's leading industrial and transportation companies – United States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X), Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) and The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. (NYSE: GBX) – jointly announced a new, more sustainable steel gondola railcar. Using an innovative formula for high-strength, lighter-weight steel developed by U. S. Steel, each gondola's unloaded weight is reduced by up to 15,000 pounds. Gondola railcars transport loose bulk material such as metal scraps, coils, wood chips, steel slabs and ore. Norfolk Southern will initially acquire 800 of the Greenbrier engineered gondolas.

U. S. Steel's materials innovation, Norfolk Southern's commitment to sustainable freight transportation, and Greenbrier's deep engineering capability have led to a stronger, lighter, and more energy-efficient product for the freight rail industry. U. S. Steel is a leader in designing advanced, lightweight, and high-strength steel solutions for the automotive industry. It identified the interconnections between steel advancements for automobiles and adapted these to the rail industry.

Features of the newly designed gondolas provide several benefits:

  • Extended Lifecycle: The new steel is twice as strong as traditional steel used in the railcar manufacturing process, potentially extending the useful life of each gondola to 50 years. A stronger external finish also strengthens the railcar body, lowering maintenance costs.
  • Increased Sustainability: The new gondola is more energy-efficient, both during production and in use. The steel fabrication process requires less time, leading to improved energy efficiency due to less material being used. The lower weight decreases the fuel needed by locomotives hauling the railcars, reducing energy usage and lowering emissions.
  • Greater Freight Capacity: Enhancements to the gondola design also afford greater freight capacity. The high-strength steel requires less structural reinforcement, simplifying the manufacturing process and allowing more total cargo space in each railcar.

"The use of lightweight, high-strength steel is a real revolution for railcars. Not only will each gondola carry more material, but they will also do so by using less energy, making our operations, and our customer's operations, even more environmentally friendly," said James A. Squires, chairman, and CEO of Norfolk Southern. "The advancements made by Norfolk Southern, U. S. Steel, and Greenbrier on these gondolas can be applied to other car types, ensuring that this sustainable innovation continues well into the future. Further, once these new gondolas are in service, we plan to recycle the previous models."

Source: Greenbrier press releases

Source: The Greenbrier Companies/Youtube.com

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