Freight train operators can now pull more good wagons per train, improving their environmental impact and efficiency.
A research project by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has enabled existing couplers, which connect freight wagons, to safely connect more load – meaning a 34.5 tonne coupler rating can increase 16% to 40-tonne, and some 56 tonne rated couplers increasing 13% to a new 63-tonne rating.
The uprated values can be applied to wagons in use today without the need to upgrade or undertake a detailed engineering assessment.
The RSSB says that because of its research, more than 12,000 rail freight wagons, 50% of Britain’s fleet, will receive an increase in traction rating (the amount of weight it is able to safely haul).
It adds that on a typical Anglo-Scottish journey, more than two tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions can be saved, as well as considerable amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions. Significant financial efficiencies are also delivered due to the train length increase.
RSSB’s lead research analyst, Aaron Barrett said: “It's good to see the results of our research directly helping freight train operators. By enabling longer trains, more goods and materials can be hauled per journey. This will have a hugely positive impact on emissions and financial efficiency.
“This research project is the first in a series, funded by the Department of Transport, designed to help the rail freight sector in Great Britain. Our freight research programme is currently focusing on the safe operation of rail freight, raising the average speed of services, enabling the operation of longer trains and reducing emissions.”
And rail minister Huw Merriman said: “This research is hugely promising. It’s great to see how we’re continuing to improve our freight network, so even more goods and materials can be moved with every journey, strengthening the UK supply chain.”
Director general of the Rail Freight Group, and Smart Transport editorial board member, Maggie Simpson, said: “Rail Freight Group members have been working hard to improve the efficiency and performance of their rail freight services, and look forward to moving more goods and materials on the new capacity this research has identified.
“RSSB’s research projects are bringing modern thinking and analysis to age old issues, and will enable more goods to be hauled by train without needing investment in new infrastructure or rolling stock.”