The covered hopper will use a patent-pending “Tsunami Gate,” which is a door-and-hatch system that Greenbrier said will allow shippers to customize the discharge speed of grain.
The new hoppers will also be shorter than traditional models, enabling the addition of more railcars on a fixed amount of track. The hoppers will be 50 feet and 6 inches long, with a capacity of 5,185 cubic feet.
Other features of the new covered hopper include longer hatches for improved filling efficiency, rounded stiffeners and for stronger sides, automated unloading and improved aerodynamic performance that reduces drag up to 50%, GBX said.
According to GBX’s website, the company manufactures covered hoppers for grain that range from 5,188 cubic feet to 5,400 cubic feet.
“The new design increases worker safety by automating the unloading process, and it optimizes space on the tracks. By shortening the length of traditional grain railcars by more than five feet, while maintaining the same cubic volume, the result is less fuel consumption, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower overall operating costs for our customers,” said Peter Jones, GBX vice president of engineering.
The company said in its sustainability report last month that it was seeking to develop railcars that hold more volume but are also lighter and shorter. These new hoppers align with this goal. GBX also said in August that it was expanding its tank car manufacturing facility in Arkansas. The expansion is related to GBX’s recent acquisition of the manufacturing business of railcar builder American Railcar Industries.
Also last week, GBX vice president of corporate finance Justin Roberts said the company was still seeing “a lot of customer inquiries” despite lower rail volumes this year and the transition to precision scheduled railroading, an operating model that seeks to streamline operations and assets.