Share this page

Centerbeam cars

Industry Leading Innovation – CN’s New Centrebeam


In August 2018, the CN team was pleased to receive the first new ceremonial centrebeam car from National Steel Car Ltd. at its assembly plant in Hamilton, Ontario.

The new-builds are 73-foot riserless centrebeams with a maximum load capacity of 286,000 pounds. They are also the result of CN’s commitment to investing in innovation and continuing to enhance the railway industry.

The story begins, ten years ago when CN started researching optional draft energy management systems with regards to rail cars. This research culminated in a CN patent for a new arrangement that is now being employed in this centrebeam build.

Not Your Standard Centrebeam

So what’s so special about this build? It allows the car to manage typical yard impacts with 6.5 inches of stroke but, unlike a traditional cushioned car, it will also provide up to 3 inches of draft protection while running on a train. 

The equipment that connects the couplings to the rolling stock is known as the draft gear. A coupler is a mechanism for connecting rolling stock in a train. This new approach to managing energy provides the needed improvements in service to reduce undesired train separations by approximately 67%.

Safety First

In addition to the new asymmetric system, the centrebeam cars are equipped with the latest safety appliance standards to enhance the ride position and comfort of our crews.

“Improvements like these, as they promulgate through the fleet have the capacity to meet the demands of railroading in the years to come as well as meeting the needs of our customers and the communities we serve," said Darrell Iler Sr. Mechanical Manager.

Improving Safety for the Rail Industry

Despite holding the patent for this new arrangement, CN has made it openly available for use, exemplifying CN’s commitment to improving safety for the entire rail industry.

CN purchased a total of 350 centrebeams earlier this year with delivery starting this fall.

CN Centerbeam story photo

CN Centerbeam story photo