Tractive Effort Calculator

What is Tractive Effort?

Tractive effort is a term used to describe the pulling or pushing power of a locomotive or vehicle. It is the force that the engine exerts on the rails to move the train forward. Tractive effort is an important factor in determining the performance and efficiency of a vehicle, as it influences how much weight the vehicle can pull and at what speed.

How is Tractive Effort Calculated?

To calculate tractive effort, you need to know the weight of the vehicle (including any cargo or passengers), the friction between the wheels and the rails, and the grade of the track (if applicable). The formula for calculating tractive effort is: Tractive Effort = (Vehicle Weight * Friction) + Grade
Tractive Effort Calculator

Where: – Vehicle Weight is the total weight of the vehicle in pounds or kilograms – Friction is the coefficient of friction between the wheels and the rails (typically around 0.3 to 0.4) – Grade is the slope of the track, expressed as a percentage (e.g. 2% grade)

Factors Affecting Tractive Effort

There are several factors that can affect tractive effort, including: – Weight of the vehicle: Heavier vehicles will require more tractive effort to move – Friction between the wheels and the rails: A higher coefficient of friction will increase tractive effort – Grade of the track: A steeper grade will require more tractive effort – Wheel diameter: Larger wheel diameters can provide more leverage and increase tractive effort – Wheelbase: Vehicles with longer wheelbases may have better traction and higher tractive effort

Applications of Tractive Effort

Tractive effort is commonly used in the design and operation of locomotives, cars, and other vehicles. It helps engineers determine the maximum load a vehicle can pull, the speed at which it can operate, and the efficiency of its performance. Tractive effort is also important in industries such as mining, agriculture, and transportation, where heavy loads need to be moved efficiently.
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Calculating Tractive Effort in Practice

To calculate tractive effort in practice, engineers use specialized equipment such as dynamometers, wheel slip detectors, and traction motors. These devices measure the force exerted by the engine on the wheels, the amount of wheel slip occurring, and the power output of the motor. By analyzing these data, engineers can optimize the tractive effort of a vehicle for maximum performance and efficiency.


In conclusion, tractive effort is a crucial aspect of vehicle design and operation. By understanding how to calculate and optimize tractive effort, engineers can improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of locomotives, cars, and other vehicles. Whether in the transportation industry or other sectors, tractive effort plays a key role in ensuring that vehicles can move heavy loads reliably and efficiently.