Integrated Railmotive Systems Inc.

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The Iron Highway Integral Train

    Unlike other projects described on this site, the Iron Highway integral train project was not done by Railmotive, but rather by the New York Air Brake Co. A brief description is included here for reference, because the Iron Highway is mentioned in several places on this website,
    The system was conceived and patented for NYAB by Tom, Engle, and the prototype was tested by the AAR under his direction, as he was NYAB’s Iron Highway Department Head. While this program was carried out in 1990-95 facets of it are still ongoing, and it is mentioned in several places on this website so this section was written with those readers who are not familiar with the original project in mind.


The Iron highway® integral train as shown above was designed as a train to be made up of bi-directional self powered elements, each capable of carrying 20 full length highway type semi trailers or up to 40 38 foot or smaller units or any reasonable combination The  equipment shown in the figure is actually a single element.

    Up to five elements can be coupled to form a high capacity train. Each element includes a split ramp loading platform at its center, This platform includes a pair of ramps one carried atop the other and so arranged that they may both be separated by simply operating an uncoupling device, and moving one end of the element away from the other under remote control.
    Each of the ramps has one end free and one end connected to the adjacent element half, and on separation, an arrangement of tracks and rollers on the two ramps causes the lower one to be lowered until its free end contacts the track. Further separation causes the upper platform to roll down the lower until its free end also contacts the track, at which point further separation simply opens enough space between the ends of the ramps to permit a semi trailer to maneuver into alignment with one ramp end, from which point the trailer can be backed up the ramp and onto the deck of the element and tied down for the line haul.
    There are stanchions on the deck of the element every 30 feet, and these are design so that when a trailer is to be tied down, the stanchion can be pulled up under the trailer nose, and a fifth wheel on the stanchion engaged with the trailers kingpin thus attaching the trailer to the element and allowing the tractor to load another trailer.  When one tractor has loaded ten trailers on a half element, requiring about 45 minutes, a second traictor can simultaneously load another ten trailers on the other half, so loading any number of trailers on a train should never require more than 45 minutes. Unloading, at about 3 minutes per trailer is easily done in a half hour so one big advantage of the system is that terminal time requirement is minimal.



After loading both element halves with trailers, the element halves are moved together, the ramp rollers and guides cooperate to bring the two ramps off the rail and a special automatic coupler locks the two in place to form a single carrying unit in which condition they travel as a single platform to destination.
    A normal piggyback train would move about 100 trailers, and to provide this capacity requires five IH elements, Since, however these elements can be loaded simultaneously, the minimum time to load an element is that required to load ten trailers on one end of one element.  A very considerable time savings over the methods more usually employed.  The elimination of loading cranes for this operation is another advantage, as both the cranes and the preparation of a running surface for them is eliminated.
    The Power and Control units shown in Fig 23-b,located at each end of each element, included fully automatic (remote controlled) couplers and podded engine-alternator sets to power drive motors on the closest five axles to the unit; a full-time monitoring system kept track of all bearing temperatures on the axles associated with the unit as well as the position of all brakeshoes (and control of all brakes).  This monitoring system assured freedom from catastrophic bearing failures and overheated wheels, thus permitting a very high probability that the train would successfully get over the road.