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Position of a train engine (Locomotive)

  1. Feb 3, 2016 #1
    I have a question about where's the most efficient place for a train engine -
    Let's say a train has to do a some route back and forth, the route has curves and positive and negative slopes.
    In real life - What's the best position for the enginge?

    My intuition says it will be most efficient if it will always be in the front -
    But when I wrote simple equations I found it doesn't matter -
    Because I have neglected many things like compression and streching of the wagons, the air resistance, heat removal and so on.. I'm not sure about it.

    Any Ideas?

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2016 #2


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    Well, it does help to see where you're going. Hard to do from the middle or back.
  4. Feb 3, 2016 #3
    Trains work well in tension but poorly in compression, keep the engine at the front.
  5. Feb 3, 2016 #4
    Of course it does :smile:

    But speaking in energetic terms - is the work (Force*Length [Joule]) will be the same,
    no matter what's the configuration of the engine comparing to the wagons?

    If so, why did the 'Push-Pull' train was invented?
    Couldn't they just leave the engine in the rear part and add controles to the front?

  6. Feb 3, 2016 #5
    Thank you, Perhaps you can explain what's the 'physical principles' behind that?
  7. Feb 3, 2016 #6
    Think of a train as a length of chain if you pull it the links will follow, if you try to push it the links will bunch up and not control well.
  8. Feb 3, 2016 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    Those questions are largely answered in the article you linked...
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