How does electric freight work in terminals?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by jfowkes, 29 Apr 2019.

  1. jfowkes

    jfowkes Member

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    I'm interested in learning more about rail freight and logistics - I can't find much information about the specifics though.

    I'm currently wondering how electrically hauled container freight is handled at terminals. From the photos I've seen and on Google Maps views, it looks like the yards themselves aren't electrified, so how do the containers get there? Shunting? Clever reversing of the locomotive so it stays under the wires but the containers don't?
     
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  3. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    Shunters mainly. The new class 88 locos DRS now have are of course an ideal solution
     
  4. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    The 'last mile' locos are a game changer. I understand the new wave of leasing firms who are investing in locos for the European market have been going for them in a big way.
     
  5. HaggisBotherer

    HaggisBotherer On Moderation

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    All stuff that the Southern Railway had sorted out nearly 80 years ago with 20001-03, then ten years later BR with the class 71s... and a few more after that with the ultimate solution, the class 73s.
    As someone who grew up on the Southern Region, seeing electro-diesels* described as a 'game changer' more than 50 years after they were first introduced to the railways of Britain makes me wonders why on earth it took everybody else so long to cotton on...? o_O

    (* I'm a bit old for all this 'bi-mode' nonsense! :p)
     
  6. trebor79

    trebor79 Member

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    "Bi-mode", in my view, is a term invented do that politicians font have to utter d****l.
     
  7. swills

    swills Established Member

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    I have always heard shunting with a 'big' engine is a pain in the **** !
     
  8. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    The modern way is for the driver to operate his/her loco from the ballast with a remote control unit, although I don't know whether this practice has come to the UK yet.
     
  9. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Well not quite in the case of the 20001-02 and 71s since they just shifted the power source from 3rd rail to overhead. In a modern container yard you can't really have overhead, so whilst it was a solution of sorts to the use of 3rd rail in the yards and depots of the 1950s it's not really a solution fit for today.

    The problem with Southern's electro diesels is they weren't that powerful when off the juice - the 73s only had 600hp and the 74s 650hp - that's "big shunter" territory rather than useful bi-mode capability.
     
  10. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    A "big shunter" is quite adequate to move a train a short distance off the power - a 350hp Class 08 can push a full freight train up over a hump in a marshalling yard at slow speed.

    Regarding 20001 etc, they could not really work off the juice, their "booster", a large flywheel, was more about keeping power supplied over short 3rd rail gaps, laid out for emus with pickups down the train, whereas a short locomotive going across crossovers etc would lose power momenarily, possibly stop and be gapped if over substantial pointwork, but also if power was interrupted for just a few seconds and then restored would snatch their loose coupled freight train and quite possibly break couplings. If the booster came into action it wouldn't last more than about 30 seconds or so.

    It's notable that the all-electric Swiss railways actually have a large number of diesel shunters, there seem to be several in any yard.
     
  11. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    As Taunton suggests, on the flat, once you've got past the initial wheel bearing 'stiction' etc. trains will roll quite easily, so you don't need much force to move one (stopping them rolling is a bigger issue!).

    You could use winches or little shunting 'mules' e.g. rubber tired road-rail vehicles. Or push the train back into the terminal as far as the OHLE allows, then cut off the loco, attach a short rake of 'reach' wagons from another siding behind it and use those to push the main train further into the terminal. Or maybe use a terminal road 'tractor' and a shunting pole...

    Getting wagons into places where locos can't go is nothing new - think about those places where you wouldn't want to take a steam loco...(e.g. due to fire hazards and/or soot, ash, dripping oil, coal dust etc.).
     
  12. alangla

    alangla Member

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    So thinking about specifics, how do places like Coatbridge Freightliner terminal work? AIUI, prior to the more recent, comprehensive, electrification in the area, the line past the terminal plus a short part of the Gartcosh line was wired, did/do trains run past, then reverse in to the limit of the wiring? How do you get the container next to the locos off without hitting the wiring?

    Of the various container terminals, which ones are wired? Coatbridge obviously, Trafford Park? London Gateway? Any others?
     
  13. jfowkes

    jfowkes Member

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    Thanks everyone! Specifics of how it's done in wired yards would be interesting. I'm guess it might be very carefully taking the containers off sideways?
     
  14. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    AS you rightly suggest at Coatbridge FLT the train daws past the terminal on the Down Goods line then into the long headshunt that runs parallel with the Gartcosh single line (the headshunt has been electrified since the terminal opened). It then sets back into one of the loading/unloading roads. The section where the cranes work is unwired; after pushing back the electric locos run round to the other end of the wagons (out onto the headshunt, back along the Down Goods line and into the other end) and can draw the wagons down further the terminal for loading and unloading if required, which is how you deal with the wagons at each end. There are also three unwired loading sidings which are only accessible from the north end but can still be shunted using electric locos on the wired sections and spacer vehicles if needed. The locos usually stable at Mossend loco holding sidings as that’s where the Freightliner traincrew depot is. I think the terminal might also have a capstan system to move wagons when there are no locos present but is has been about 5 years since I last visited it so I’m not certain of that. Some of the other terminals have diesel shunters to move wagons on unwired roads.
     
  15. GB

    GB Established Member

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    You will never get wires in a container terminal loading/unloading area.
     
  16. jfowkes

    jfowkes Member

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    Sorry, I misunderstood @alangla 's queston about Coatbridge and got it into my head that the terminal was wired. Thanks to @Highlandspring for the excellent explanation clearing that up..
     
  17. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Would raising the wires to maximum height allow a reachstacker enough room to grab a container? It would probably need some kind of geofencing to prevent it going up too far in that part of the yard, as well as some fairly hefty electrical earthing measures! Reachstacker is probably also pretty slow compared with a gantry crane.

    I'm pretty sure no builk freight of the type carried in hopper wagons is electrically hauled in the UK, but what do other countries use for overhead loading terminals?
     
  18. GB

    GB Established Member

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    Yes I suppose if the wires were able to be raised to a certain height you could get a reach stacker in there. But even with the wires isolated they would need to be raised a good 10-12ft (at least) above where they would normally be to create the necessary gap. Reach stackers are also pretty useless at loading/unloading containers on lines beyond the line thats directly in front of them.

    Thats a lot of engineering and a lot of cost for something that introduces a lot of risk for not much benefit.
     
  19. trebor79

    trebor79 Member

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    No professional operation would ever countenance such an arrangement. It is guaranteed to go wrong at some point and result in electricity getting to places it isn't wanted, regardless of any practicable mitigation.
    Plus a reachstacker able to lift a fully loaded container is going to be a monster. I'm not sure they even exist.
     
  20. swills

    swills Established Member

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    What a scary thought ! disaster or death waiting to happen !!
     
  21. Pakenhamtrain

    Pakenhamtrain Member

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    If it's anything like down here there's restrictions on how close you can get a live wire.
     
  22. GrimShady

    GrimShady Established Member

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    Oh they exist alright. They are large machines however.
     
  23. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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  24. GB

    GB Established Member

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    Reach stackers are able to move fully loaded 40ft containers (not sure about fully loaded 45ft) but the further the reach stacker arm extends the less load they are able to take. So in a 3 line terminal it won't be able to reach line 3, would have restrictions on the maximum load on line 2 and will happily load line 1 (closest to the stacker)
     
  25. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Reach Wagons are a rake of (commonly old flat) wagons that a locomotive can push in front of them to propel the main train into somewhere that the loco cannot get to. Beyond the electric wires is one such, they were used in some industrial factories where locos were not allowed right in. Likewise the old Dover-Dunkerque train ferry used to use them to load wagons on and off the ship, as the loco was not allowed on the ship (more specifically, not on the linkspan connecting to it).
     
  26. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    Avoiding OHLE through the loader, you could either push part of the train through the loader with an electric loco then run-around to the other end and pull the remainder through, or use loaders that can move the train slowly themselves e.g. rubber tyred wheels acting on the side of the hopper wagons or arms pushing on part of the wagon or its wheels.
     
  27. Pakenhamtrain

    Pakenhamtrain Member

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    Or you could do the queensland thing:
     
  28. GB

    GB Established Member

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    That wouldn't work at loading/unloading speeds. Would also need to have the trains pantograph modified other wise when it runs out of wires the pantograph will over extend then completely drop.
     
  29. jfowkes

    jfowkes Member

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    I would LOVE to see an airgapped container loading/unloading system that worked at those speeds, please someone make it happen.
     
  30. JonasB

    JonasB Member

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  31. driver_m

    driver_m Established Member

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    Garston in Liverpool is also another electrified terminal. They used to use an 08 for shunting down there. Not sure now though since Allerton stopped servicing the local shutters back in the mid 2000s.

    Ditton would only need a short stretch of OLE to enable it to do electric services. All the lines in the vicinity are wired bar a couple of short bits for O’Connor’s and the other adjacent siding that is currently used for Land Rover factory supplies.
    O’Conners uses a FL loco to do shunts there. Alston have got 2 08 shunters for the pendo painting. DB just use their own loco.
     

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