The Greenbrier Companies, United States Steel and Norfolk Southern have joined forces to introduce a new steel gondola railcar designed for sustainability.

Each gondola’s unloaded mass will be cut down by up to 15,000 pounds due to the utilisation of ‘high-strength, lighter-weight’ steel created by US Steel.

At first, Norfolk Southern will receive 800 of the Greenbrier-developed gondolas.

The collaboration between supplier, builder and end-user will help replace the aging gondola fleet of North America with a greener design.

These gondola railcars are useful for carrying loose bulk goods, including metal scraps, coils, wood chips, steel slabs and ore.

In addition to better sustainability, the newly designed gondolas will offer increased freight capacity, and prolonged lifecycle.

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They will also be more energy-efficient, during production as well as operation.

While steel fabrication procedure will reduce time, the drop in weight will minimise fuel consumption and emissions.

The new steel utilised in the railcar manufacturing process is said to be two times stronger than traditional steel, which is expected to lengthen the lifespan of each gondola to 50 years.

As a result, the companies will also be able to cut down maintenance costs.

Norfolk Southern chairman and CEO James A Squires said: “The use of lightweight, high-strength steel is a real revolution for railcars. Not only will each gondola carry more material, they will do so by using less energy, making our operations, and our customer’s operations, even more environmentally friendly.

“The advancements made by Norfolk Southern, US Steel, and Greenbrier on these gondolas can be applied to other car types, ensuring that this sustainable innovation continues well into the future. Further, once these new gondolas are in service, we plan to recycle the previous models.”

In February this year, Greenbrier said that it is setting up a new leasing joint venture with the Longwood Group to extend its owned leased railcar portfolio.