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BN Fuel Tenders

April 3, 2010

A fuel tender is a specially equipped tank car which serves as an auxiliary fuel tank for the locomotives connected to it.  The fuel tender includes multiple unit (MU) connections and fuel lines so it can be spliced between two or more units.

The BN expanded its use of fuel tenders to main line freight trains in 1987.  They were configured to work with BN’s GP50s, B30-7As, and LMX B39-8 lease units.  The advantage of fuel tenders was fewer stops and the ability to purchase fuel where the BN could find the best regional price.

A southbound BN manifest travels just south of Tower 87 in Houston on Sept. 18, 1988

BN's locomotive paint scheme was applied to all fuel tenders. BNFT 49 at Houston, Sept. 18, 1988

The fuel tender program ended, other than for Powder River basin helper sets, by 1991. The primary reason for ending their use was the price of diesel was dropping in the early 1990’s. Unexpected wear and tear on the fuel tenders themselves was also a factor, since tank car frames are not built to take the buffeting and longitudinal forces that locomotives are designed for.

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