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Head End Power Products

From Northwest Rail Electric

Phone: (503) 231-4808, Fax: (503) 230-0572, E-mail

What is Head End Power?

Head End Power is a system of electrical power distribution on a passenger train in which a power source in a central location on the train (usually a locomotive or a generator car) generates all the electricity for "hotel" power (non-traction, or non-motive power uses) needed by the train. Virtually all modern passenger trains have their electrical needs met in this fashion. The acronym HEP is in common usage.

At right it is possible to see a car rebuild shop carefully planning where they put their head-end power connections on the passenger cars they are rebuilding. The long black electrical cable is a typical HEP connector.

Providing power on a passenger train requires some careful design for electrical distribution:

Due to the need for compatibility between the various cars on a train, as well as common safety concerns (a safety problem on one car can be a problem for the entire train), Amtrak has produced a series of passenger car standards. These standards cover the various requirements for HEP (as well as other areas) that need to be followed to produce a railroad car that can be added into an Amtrak passenger train without any compatibility or safety problems.

For those wanting to convert their passenger car to full Amtrak compatible HEP, we have a List of Parts required.

Other HEP systems are also in use in North America outside of Amtrak. These include Canadian systems, as well as tourist railroads that want the advantages of HEP without the expense of the full power capacity of Amtrak style HEP. We have a list of various HEP configurations used. Northwest Rail Electric equipment has been used on all of the systems mentioned on that page.


HEP Products From Northwest Rail Electric

We have a list available of the materials and parts required to convert a railroad passenger car to head end power. This list only gives those parts for conversion to operate on Amtrak, and does not include such things as mechanical inspections, converting electrical systems on the car to operate off of the HEP power, and air conditioning conversion.

The following products are distributed by Northwest Rail Electric for use in the Head End Power market:


An Adobe Acrobat version of the brochure for our HEP products is available in the PDF Files area.


Related Products from Northwest Rail Electric:

For those doing a complete upgrade on a railroad passenger car, we also offer:


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