In the mid-1990’s, the industry was facing a shortage of flatcars for trilevel autoracks. Tri-level flatcars are different from straight deck flatcars used for bi-level autoracks. At the time the auto industry was shifting back to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, perfect for trilevel loading.
Getting to 65 requires are tons of Patience and Persistence
TTX, the main supplier of these cars, faced a problem. Through attrition, their fleet of available tri-level flatcars, well under 50 years old, was small. Their customers were demanding a solution that didn’t involve annual preventative maintenance programs and FRA waivers. So TTX’s engineers devised a method to simulate an additional 15 years of service life on the subject cars. It involved placing an trilevel flatcar on the “Simuloader” and performed accelerated service tests at TTCI in Pueblo.
This satisfied the FRA and allowed the AAR to quietly release an amendment to the AAR rules regarding the 50-year age cap
Once the industry heard about this process, immediately there were questions, such as – How can my cars qualify? Why was 50 the magic number anyway? and so on.
It wasn’t too long after, AAR released changes in Rule 88 for Increased Life Status [ILS].
TTX deserves a lot of credit developing a method to satisfy the regulators to extend beyond the 50-year age restriction. Additional credit to the AAR committees to respond with a couple of methods to qualify.
It still requires lots of engineering analysis, submissions, time and money. But the two most important requirements are tons of Patience and Persistence to get through the process.
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