Which has been the longest and heaviest freight train on record?

General Electric AC6000CW holds the combined record for the longest and heaviest train. On June 12, 2001, the 7.3-kilometer (4.6 miles) train traveled 275 kilometers (172 miles) in Australia, carrying 82,000 tons of ore. The train itself weighed almost 100,000 tons and hauled 682 ore cars.

The GE AC6000CW was created at the peak of the tight horsepower competition between two significant locomotive manufacturers in the early to mid-1900s. GE Transportation from Erie, Pennsylvania, and Electro-Motive Division from Ontario, Canada competed with a goal of 6,000 horsepower or 4,5000 kW.

In 1994, GE collaborated with the German company, Duetz-MW. They planned to design and build the 6-250-horsepower or 4,660-kilowatt 7HDL locomotive engine. The collaboration’s first fruit of labor was the GE 6000, which was named as the ‘Green Machine’ mainly due to its green color. Union Pacific Railroad 7000-79009 and CSX Transportation were the first to avail of the initial production models. After GE completed all testing and assessments, the locomotives were distributed to their keepers in the latter part of 1996.

Unfortunately, the first models experienced different mechanical difficulties, most critically, with the 7HDL engine itself. They discovered severe vibrations issues that were resolved by adding mass to the engine to decrease the resonant frequency. However, the fix then resulted in snags with the engine’s twin turbochargers. With all the snags, GE was forced to halt the production not until 1998. There were improvements made at production, such as making the engine wall thicker and the utilization of harder materials to combat the issues.

GE produced around 106 AC6000CW models for the Union Pacific using the reliable 7FDL engine, with 4,400 horsepower or 3,300 kilowatts. Initially, they were planned to be improved using the 7HDL, but the issues with the latter never allowed it to happen. In 2001, GE ended its production of the AC6000CW, but it remained in use by Union Pacific until 2010, mainly in Texas. The units were regarded as the C60AC, CW60AH, and CW60AC.

On the other hand, CSX Transportation was able to improve most of their AC6000CW units to GEVO-16, which in turn made the models more eco-friendly and dependable. The models had a capacity of 5,800 horsepower or 4,300 kilometers and were named as the CW46AH, as they were only rated 4,600 horsepower or 3,400 kilometers.

Nevertheless, the older GE AC6000CW’s were able to make the world record for the longest and heaviest train. On June 21, 2001, BHP Billiton’s models in Australia traveled 275 kilometers (172 miles) from Yandi mine to Port Hedland. It had a total of eight GE AC6000CW diesel-electric engines dispersed along the 7.3 kilometers (4.6 miles) train hauling 682 wagons. The train itself weighed almost 100,000 tons while carrying a total of 82,000 tons of iron ore. The train traveled at an average speed of 53 miles per hour, but it has a top speed of around 72 miles per hour.

BHP Billiton Iron made this journey as a test to their train system. It allowed a series of locomotives that were equally distributed along the entire length of the train to make such stretch possible. The train was 6.5 times the length of Australia’s popular cricket field, the Adelaide Oval, or spans a cumulative length of twelve soccer, football pitches.

Aside from Australia, India also boasts long trains that reach lengths up to 1970 feet, while Japan has the Tokaido Shinkansen N700 that measures 1,325 feet. The Lulea to Stockholm train spans 1,740 feet. US freight trains usually stretch up to 6,000 feet.

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