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Old 05-15-2013, 05:11 PM   #1
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Math for liberal arts majors

First, full disclosure. I became a liberal arts major the moment I learned to read at age 5. From that point on, the only reason to figure out what 'n' stands for was to put it in context of other letters to make a word in a book I was reading.

So my question is this.... and this sounds like one of those math word puzzles, but I am just wondering how this can be....


there is currently a CSX Rail commercial running on television where they say they are able to move a ton of freight 400 miles on a single gallon of fuel.

Any explanations of how they get this amazing mpg? Is it inertia once the engines get the train up to speed?

I know its probably some kind of mass or volume equation but it just sounds sort of incredulous to me....

thanks to the rocket scientists on Forums for explaining this.

Dana
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Old 05-15-2013, 05:33 PM   #2
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From CSX's website([URL="http://www.csx.com/index.cfm/about-csx/projects-and-partnerships/fuel-efficiency/"]:

"Here is the formula for our 2009 fuel efficiency rating: (From the 2009 R-1 Report)
Schedule 750, Fuel consumed (freight + switching) = 446,999,921 gallons
Schedule 755, line 110, Revenue Ton-Miles = 209,248,946,000 RTM
RTM per gallon = (209,248,946,000 RTM / 446,999,921 gals) = 468 RTM/gal"

I would expect 2 major factors would dominate the explanation for this:
1. Very large tonnage per vehicle
2. Very few stops and minimal variation in speed

Both factors are in comparison to over-the-road trucking. I am sure other factors, such as friction might come into play.

As a fellow liberal arts major, I am looking forward to a more technical answer/explanation.
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Old 05-15-2013, 05:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by louaxtjr View Post
From CSX's website([URL="http://www.csx.com/index.cfm/about-csx/projects-and-partnerships/fuel-efficiency/"]:

"Here is the formula for our 2009 fuel efficiency rating: (From the 2009 R-1 Report)
Schedule 750, Fuel consumed (freight + switching) = 446,999,921 gallons
Schedule 755, line 110, Revenue Ton-Miles = 209,248,946,000 RTM
RTM per gallon = (209,248,946,000 RTM / 446,999,921 gals) = 468 RTM/gal"

I would expect 2 major factors would dominate the explanation for this:
1. Very large tonnage per vehicle
2. Very few stops and minimal variation in speed

Both factors are in comparison to over-the-road trucking. I am sure other factors, such as friction might come into play.

As a fellow liberal arts major, I am looking forward to a more technical answer/explanation.

Lou,

thanks for the thoughts. really never occured to me to look on their website, wouldn't have known what to look for. I see that you are in North Adams. Back in the day my dad's paychecks both in Nashua NH and Wichita Falls Texas came postmarked from Sprague Electric in North Adams.

Dana
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:03 PM   #4
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Dana,

Your first post piqued my interest, and Google led me to CSX's website. I hadn't really expected any help there.

North Adams has changed greatly since I was a kid and Sprague Electric was in town. Back in those days, you could hardly walk across the sidewalk during lunch hour, as so many Sprague employees filled Main Street. Today, Sprague and related businesses are long gone. It's a familiar story.

I am curious what your father did for work. I knew Sprague Electric as an electronics parts manufacturer.

Lou
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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Lou

He was a design engineer doing design of many of Sprague's manufacturing lines.
He retired before Sprague went belly up fortunately.
We have been on Texas for more than 40 years, dont miss the snow, but fo miss autumn McIntosh apples

Dana
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:07 PM   #6
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Other Transportation Modes

As the cargo size goes up it (generally) get more efficient to move. The percentage of total weight of the infrastructure (the train itself, or truck, or ship) gets smaller compared with the cargo.

Being able to travel long distances without stopping also helps significantly.

As a measure of efficiency for a railway, it also speaks to the amount of fuel that is used to move empty rail cars around. If a railway is moving empty cars half the time, then the calculation of ton-miles / gallon is cut in half. A railway that is averaging 70% full is outperforming the railway that is 50% full.

Found this post:
Estimates of Total Fuel Consumption in Transporting Grain from Iowa to Major Grain Countries by Alternatives Modes and Routes

It compares the cost of moving grain using different modes of transportation.

By truck: 190 Gross Ton Miles / Gallon
By train: 437 Gross Ton Miles / Gallon (Iowa to West Coast - Mountains)
By barge: 953 Gross Ton Miles / Gallon (Upper Mississippi Southward)
By barge: 243 Gross Ton Miles / Gallon (Upper Mississippi Northbound)
By ship: 1043 Gross Ton Miles / Gallon (100, 000 Deadweight Tonnes)

Interesting diversion from planning the summer vacation...or working on the airstream.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:11 PM   #7
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MaxTow

thanks for the reply. I figured it had to do with what you have outlined. Just as a 10 second sound clip it sounds hard to believe.

always glad to help folks take a little break from day dreaming.

Dana
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