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Electric Heaters

for Railway Passenger Cars

from Northwest Rail Electric

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

See where our equipment is located on a typical passenger car


For those converting older passenger car to work with head-end power, having some form of electric heat that operates off of the HEP system is usually a must. Northwest Rail Electric has been involved with a large number of passenger car rebuilds and upgrades over the years, as well as the occasional new car construction. Since the late 1990s we have moved exclusively to tubular finned elements. This element style is far better suited to railway passenger cars than most any other heater element type.

Typical custom heater for railroad passenger car
Pictured: a typical custom heater designed to meet the needs of a tourist railroad operating heavyweight cars.

In the example shown above, heaters were required for installation in cars with an unusual duct shape. While the heavyweight cars may have required a custom duct heater, the solution was only partially a custom heater: existing sheet metal designs sizes were adjusted to create the required heater size. The elements, insulators, terminal blocks and various other components were off the shelf solutions developed for other heaters. The frame is stainless steel and will provide years of trouble free service.

Typical Overhead Heat Packages:


HT181643480

Another example of heaters we have designed and built for use in railraod passenger cars:

Typical custom heater for railroad passenger car
Heater designed to replace older HEP conversions

Early electric heat conversions in railroad passenger cars took many forms when HEP first started to be installed on cars in the 1970s and 1980s. One heater that was commonly used for providing overhead heat was the ALCO Controls model 11-3095-00, which was a 3 phase 480 volt 2 stage wire coil heater. They worked acceptably well, but the years of vibration did not do any favors for the wire coils. Our replacement for this heater is designed to fit in the same footprint.

  • Dimensions are 40 inches by 14 inches open air space, 45.5 x 16 x 3 inches overall.

  • Heat output is 18 kW standard; 6 kW on stage 1 and 12 kW on stage 2. If additional capacity is required, please call and discuss reuqired capacity with us as additional capacity may be possible if the space in the overhead duct allows.

  • Heaters are equipped with today's standard railroad heater thermostat system: two thermostats; one for heat cycling and one for shunt trip operation if the heat remains on after the heat cycling should have shut it off.

  • Heater frame is made of stainless still as standard equipment.

  • A variety of terminals for the heater power wires may be used to suit the desires of the car owner. Standard equipment is a terminal design that accepts ring terminals but has no loose screw parts that can fall out.

  • As seen in the photo, the heater may be equipped with hardware and flanges for connection to the existing car overhead flexible duct, if present.

  • Heater is equipped with industry standard dual layers of insulation. One layer is the insulation built into the heating elements, separating the outside sheath of the heating element from the energized resistive element. The second layer is a primary insulator that supports the heating elements themselves and separates the outside heater element sheath from the metal frame of the heater.


    We have HVAC systems and HVAC Control systems designed for railroad passenger cars, if you need a control system to go with your heater.

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


    Complete Overhead Packages Available:

    In almsot all cases since approximately 2003, most customers have chosen to replace their blowers, overheat heat, and air conditioning coil at the same time using our NW-BEOH-C overhead package, which includes all of this heating and air conditioning equipment in a single overhead package. If you are considering replacing your passenger car heater, it may be time to consider a complete HVAC system upgrade, as many of our customers have done.


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