The Office of Research and Development of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is sponsoring a revenue service demonstration of an on-board condition monitoring system for freight trains. The objective of the system is to improve railroad safety and efficiency through continuous monitoring of mechanical components to detect defects before they cause breakdowns and accidents. The project, which commenced in June 1999, is part of the Rolling Stock Program Element in FRA’s Five-Year Strategic Plan for Railroad Research, Development and Demonstrations [1]. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Wilcoxon Research (WR) developed the prototype system in 2000. It was installed on a test vehicle provided by the Research and Tests Department at Norfolk Southern Corporation and was tested during the period Nov. 2000–Nov. 2001. In fall 2003 the monitoring system was installed on five hopper cars provided by Southern Company Services and is currently being tested in revenue service operation on a coal train operating on a Norfolk Southern route in Alabama between a coalmine northwest of Birmingham and Gaston Steam Plant in Wilsonville, AL. In this paper we discuss the performance of the monitoring system during the revenue service demonstration. The potential benefits of the technology are also addressed.

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