RTS December 2023

Page 18



A History of Innovation and Optimization

16 Railway Track & Structures // December 2023

Interaction Heavy Haul Conference. MRS Logística’s operations account for 30% of Brazil’s national railway production and links the country’s three largest seaports. The most immediate challenges that MRS faces are due to the age of the infrastructure. “The majority of our track was laid more than 100 years ago,” Merheb said. MRS also operates in Brazil’s most densely populated areas, passing through many cities. “Much of our operation is in tight corridors, very close to commercial and residential areas,” he said. MRS divides its 1,680 km network into 4 divisions and 20 subdivisions, many of which feature particularly challenging conditions and constraints. The Ferrovia do Aço division is a 357-kilometer, 170-MGT line that was built primarily in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It has 50 km of bridges; 45 km of tunnels, up to 600 m-radius (3-degree) curvature, and a 1.2% maximum grade.

The Serra do Mar subdivision, part of the Rio de Janeiro division, is a 96-kilometer, 190-MGT subdivision that was built in the 1880s. It has 4 km of bridges, 10 km of tunnels, up to 150m-radius (11.5-degree) curvature, and a 2.2% maximum grade. “As you would expect, due its age, this is a uniquely-challenging operating environment,” Merheb said. The Cremalheira subdivision, part of the São Paulo division, is a 95-km, 10-MGT subdivision that was built in 1960. It has 2 km of bridges, 200m-radius (8.7-degree) curvature, and a maximum grade of 11.8% that requires specially designed rack and pinion locomotives to negotiate the 8 kilometers 1600-mm gauge “rack track” on the electrified line between São Paulo to the port of Santos. “The Cremalheira Sub doesn’t see a lot of tonnage, but the 11.8-percent grades are challenging,” he said. The 4th division, Minas Gerais, which rtands.com

Photo Credit: MRS


ome challenges in the railroad industry are local, some are universal. Brazil’s MRS Logística has met its share of both. Their efforts to maintain, modernize, and optimize their network over the past 30 years highlight the importance of approaching all challenges from a system-wide perspective, and of leveraging every resource at their disposal. The Brazilian freight railroad industry is in the midst of major growth: speeds and axle-loads have both increased, driving a systemwide production increase of 30% in the past five years. In the next five years, MRS will increase axle loads from 32.5 metric tonnes (38.8 US tons) to 36 tonnes (39.7 US tons), increase consist size (to 272 cars), increase train speeds by 25%, and begin to roll out hybrid locomotives, Antonio Merheb, consultant to MRS Logística, and Chairman of the International Heavy Haul Association, told delegates at the 2023 Wheel/Rail

By Jeff Tuzik

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