Thursday, September 19, 2013

Heaviest Ever Rail Freight Wagon and Intermodal Innovation Both Launched in Past Month

Cargo Carried on the Tracks States its Green Credentials and Compares to Road Haulage
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – US – AUSTRALIA – Gone are the days when it was enough to say that freight by rail qualified as the most environmental option, these days everyone, from wagon makers through producers and carriers to end users are determined to demonstrate their green credentials, whilst cutting costs and making maximum profits, and two innovations in the past month, one for intermodal traffic and the other for the bulk market, both seem to tick all the boxes.

In China the state owned CNR group has manufactured and sold the first of what the company terms ‘the heaviest railway wagon in the world’. The CNR Qiqihar Railway Rolling Stock Co has produced a new design of stainless ore wagon with a 40 tonne axle load. CNR says the operational axle load of this type of wagon can be increased to 44 tonnes thus claiming the title.

CNR sold the initial order of eight wagons to mining outfit Rio Tinto’s Australian operation and the Chinese group says that the heavier axle loading means lower running costs with a prophecy that this will be the boom market in the industry with demand in North America, Brazil, South Africa as well as Australia.

In the US, Union Pacific has unveiled the production version of its Arrowedge shroud for use on double stacked container trains. The idea is simple but effective with the same principal as the wind deflectors now commonly seen atop articulated trucks all over the globe. By shrouding the first box with the employee designed cover the aerodynamic signature is reduced, the airflow passing over the train rendering it more energy efficient by reducing the drag coefficient.

Union Pacific has spent years perfecting the idea which is set to be rolled out across all suitable routes when the tapered body, 48 foot long Arrowedge has completed its final test phase where it is currently being tested on the tracks between Illinois and California. The company has had a bit of a green blitz of late emphasising that cargo transported by rail is beneficial when compared to road haulage, claiming one tonne of freight uses only a single US gallon of diesel to travel almost 500 miles, whilst each full trainload takes up to 300 trucks off the highways.

Photo: The Arrowedge in place atop and intermodal, double stacked, container train.