Diesel Propulsion Drone
A Collaborative Design by Temple University and STV Incorporated


During off peak hours or on routes with low ridership demands, transit authorities such as the New Jersey Transit agency has a need to operate smaller trains consisting of two to three passenger cars.  As many areas throughout the country are not electrified territories for the operating railroads, train operation is largely dependent on diesel engine propulsion.  To fulfill this need, our team will design the foundation for a scaled down diesel propulsion unit that will be fulfill these low demand applications.  The design concept will be developed with an understanding that transit authorities may wish to utilize or modify existing vehicle carshells from equipment being decommissioned to serve as the base structure for the propulsion unit.  Since it will be remotely controlled from either end of the train, we can classify the unit as a drone.  It will provide nearly the same capabilities of a conventional locomotive including energy output for passenger luxuries and comforts, and enough tractive effort to drive the train and its load.  It will be comprised of service proven components wherever possible in order to cut costs and increase part reliability. Currently, regional rail systems either operate passenger trains with light passenger demand using self-propelled multiple unit propulsion systems (MU’s) or with more inefficient methods involving full-scale locomotives.  Due to the logistics involved with breaking up trainsets, agencies will often utilize a full trainset during off-peak hours or on low ridership lines and merely close-off unoccupied cars.  This adds to the inefficiency of the operation of these trains.  Our Propulsion Drone will be a smaller and more cost effective alternative while still complying with Federal Regulations and forthcoming Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier IV emissions standards.  Some constraints that we will analyze include tractive effort, braking power, and cost efficiency according to a realistic passenger demand. STV Incorporated is a leading Engineering Consulting firm that works closely with various transit authorities including New Jersey Transit, SEPTA, and a whole host of others.  They will be providing guidance, information on various research tools, and access to their information databases for our research and simulation programs in order to develop and test our design.