Is non containerized freight on the way out.

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bailey65

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Nowadays most freight is intermodal in containers and a new super port is being created at liverpool though it is yet to be seen if it will be rail served.
If it is it will almost certainly be containerized which raises the question is most old style non container freight on the way out to be replaced mostly by containers between set terminals and ports.
It seems traditional freight trains other than tankers and aggregate traffic have become obsolete and freight to the fringes of the rail network has become almost non existant.
It is a shame old mixed goods to far flung outposts are almost gone but logistics and business in the 21st century are totally different to 100 years ago and more freight goes by road where bigger trucks are now allowed.
 
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HSTEd

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Very regular coal trains are vital to the UK's electricity generation industry and are among the greatest users of many lines - and not a container in sight.

At the moment anyway, there is no particular reason you could not move coal in containers (indeed many containerised coal loads have been moved in the UO), just that in the use there is little benefit in doing so with the widespread deployment of Merry Go Round operations.

As to the OPs question, yes.
Containerisation is the future, what with the deployment of "half height" containers for coal and aggregate traffic and the arrival of the "tanktainer" which will probably obliterate the remaining tanker markets.

The arrival of containerisation does not neccesarily mean the end of freight trains to far flung areas of the network however, it probably helps it by enabling smaller amounts of rolling stock to carry more (as the expensive bit below the solebar can be somewhere else while they fill or empty the cheap bit with whatever)
 

142094

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Freight traffic has decreased somewhat since BR days, but one of things that has happened is that freight trains these days are travelling much further than they previously would have. Hauling bulk loads such as coal, aggregates and powder products will never be economically viable by road, so the only two options are either by ship or rail - and even if you choose ship, you'll still need rail to move in on land. The only reason I can think of for a future decrease in the tonnage of coal being transported is a change in the national energy policy, but in some cases where less coal is being used, such as due to the increased use of biofuels, the biofuels themselves are being hauled by rail.
 

krus_aragon

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Containerised freight isn't something I see coming through Cardiff very often: it tends to be coal hoppers, slab or rolled steel on flat wagons, or fuel tanks. Although, on reflection, is steel shipped on the same wagons as containers, with the appropriate fixtures bolted on?
 

GearJammer

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As a haulier of containers i think half the reason is the fact that the UK imports so much of the things it uses these days, i should imagine in the past when we had a thriving manufacturing industry in this country stuff would move around the country in box vans etc, now it comes from abroad it comes in containers.
 

142094

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Containerised freight isn't something I see coming through Cardiff very often: it tends to be coal hoppers, slab or rolled steel on flat wagons, or fuel tanks. Although, on reflection, is steel shipped on the same wagons as containers, with the appropriate fixtures bolted on?

Depends on what type of steel it is - slabs seem to go on flat-bed wagons, whereas coil goes in covered wagons. Plus it is easier to load/unload compared to containers.
 

LE Greys

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Well probably not for bulk goods: coal, stone, ore and so on. Similarly, ballast, rail, sleepers and other internal user traffic will probably stay as it is. It is far easier if something like that can be handled by hopper or grab than if it has to be piled into a container and out again. A 'hoptainer' might be possible, but would require a wagon with holes in the frame to cope with it. Alternatively, stack the thing vertically, fill it up, then remove and pour the coal out like a giant jug, but that sounds a bit silly.
 

tsr

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Alternatively, stack the thing vertically, fill it up, then remove and pour the coal out like a giant jug, but that sounds a bit silly.

If you're feeling like going to that much effort, you probably may as well use your "hoptainers" anyway, or continue according to today's preferred methods!

Back on the wider topic, I think that I agree that commercial traffic that is not supplying the rail industry itself is indeed far more likely to use containers, as is already demonstrated by the current trend and indeed now the precedent. The container sizing and overall system is, I believe, significantly easier and cheaper to manage. It's also accepted pretty much globally.

I do agree that shipping any goods internally or to railway industry customers should be assessed differently and other types of wagons do have their purposes in this environment.
 

krus_aragon

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Depends on what type of steel it is - slabs seem to go on flat-bed wagons, whereas coil goes in covered wagons. Plus it is easier to load/unload compared to containers.

The gist I was trying to get at was whether the flat wagons used for slabs (and some rolled steel) can also be used to convey containers: are they effectively the same base?
 

LexyBoy

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Car trains are another frequent non-containerised one around here. Military vehicles and what I take to be steel from Wales are others. It's common for there to be no containers in Didcot yard in fact.
 

jopsuk

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what has gone (mainly) are mixed-freight non-containerised- almost all freight is single-load, be that containers, tanks of one product, bulk goods, steel coils, cars etc. Engineering trains might be technically "mixed" but will be for or from a particular worksite mainly
 

ex-railwayman

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Nowadays most freight is intermodal in containers and a new super port is being created at liverpool though it is yet to be seen if it will be rail served.
If it is it will almost certainly be containerized which raises the question is most old style non container freight on the way out to be replaced mostly by containers between set terminals and ports.
It seems traditional freight trains other than tankers and aggregate traffic have become obsolete and freight to the fringes of the rail network has become almost non existant.
It is a shame old mixed goods to far flung outposts are almost gone but logistics and business in the 21st century are totally different to 100 years ago and more freight goes by road where bigger trucks are now allowed.


Yeah, market forces have changed drastically in the last 25 years, the demise of domestic freightflows throughout the UK has seen the disappearance of so many old freight wagons from the network. The VDA vans that ran between Cadburys in Bournville, York and Bristol and other chocolate manufacturers such as Terrys and Frys have all been taken over by major conglomerates, such as Kraft, with production moving abroad (Poland), being a classic example.
Many BR freight wagons were constructed from the 1940's onwards, their shelf lives have now expired anyway and were all scrapped. Some of the MoD traffic is still in box vans, but, in general we don't see many older freight wagons anymore as they've either been scrapped, stored, or rebuilt for more modern traffic, ballast wagons immediately spring to mind, we now see the longer JTA and JNA Bogie Ballast/Spoil Wagons instead of the much older and smaller tuna/sturgeon/dolphin wagons.
Tank containers have been around since the early 70's, firstly adopted for the carriage of bulk liquids, the majority of them were 20ft, but, over the years 30ft and 40footers were designed, for cement and other powdered goods. Tanktainers are generally only 20ft and were initially for the movement of liquid hydrogen, though, future developments open the door to other products being carried.
Containerised traffic will always be popular as it's secure and it's universal, box and tank containers will be with us for decades to come, we also have the European freight wagons such as Shmmns, Flachwagen, Hbbins, etc, etc, and as our rail freight operation is now owned by DB Schenker they operate onto the continent and the Europeans can now send their products to the UK in door-to-door freight carriers built for the job.

Cheerz. ex-railwayman.
 

Hydro

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The gist I was trying to get at was whether the flat wagons used for slabs (and some rolled steel) can also be used to convey containers: are they effectively the same base?

4/6E32(?) Scunthorpe to Dollands Moor runs with ISO flats with mountings for holding steel slabs, but I think that's the only one really. A lot of specialist steel wagons are still on the rails, bogie bolsters, BZA/BAA etc for slab and coil.

There's still plenty of freight around, not as much as there was or arguably should be, but it's there.
 

ChiefPlanner

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It may look standard , but the contents of the Daventry - Grangemouth for example are a very wide range of products , akin to the contents of a mixed freight of the past (watch the iconic BTF film "Fully Fitted Freight" ...for mixed loads) - I used to check the paperwork on Freightliner deep sea and European contents , and it ranged from almost anything you can think of - tinned salmon to Rolls Royce cars and anything in between. The Wisbech - Deanside Spillers train carried anything from ground coffee to pet food !
 

Hydro

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It may look standard , but the contents of the Daventry - Grangemouth for example are a very wide range of products , akin to the contents of a mixed freight of the past (watch the iconic BTF film "Fully Fitted Freight" ...for mixed loads) - I used to check the paperwork on Freightliner deep sea and European contents , and it ranged from almost anything you can think of - tinned salmon to Rolls Royce cars and anything in between. The Wisbech - Deanside Spillers train carried anything from ground coffee to pet food !

I'm sure there are still a few what could be classed as mixed freight workings between Mossend and Warrington, aren't there? I'm sure I've seen 92's with mixed loads running up and down the WCML.
 

142094

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The gist I was trying to get at was whether the flat wagons used for slabs (and some rolled steel) can also be used to convey containers: are they effectively the same base?

Sorry, read your question in a different way. As Hydro has said a lot of the steel carrying wagons are purpose built, although I suppose for a future design it would be quite easy to build something that is capable of carrying containers or other loads like slab steel. At present it would probably be a faff to have to remove the stanchions on current flat wagons so a container could get on, and you'd probably have to do some modifications to get it to work.

I was hoping that with increases in fuel costs, that rail-based transport of freight would gain the upper hand over road-based hauliers, but not sure if this has been the case over the past few years.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The Chirk log trains are non-container.
Sellafield nuclear recycling trains are a sort of specialised container traffic.
The coal for Padeswood cement works is carried in container trains.

Coal is in slow decline and unless new coal generating capacity is authorised soon this will accelerate as the existing power stations reach end of life.
Ironbridge, for instance, is already cutting back generation in advance of closure in 2015.
There is no rail element in the growth areas of gas-fired stations, wind farms or solar arrays, and biomass is still at an uncertain stage.
 

jopsuk

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There is no rail element in the growth areas of ... wind farms
I think in the US they can move some of the smaller blades (perhaps up to about 40m?) by rail. But only in some areas. Even if the length wasn't an issue (ie curves could be negotiated) the root ends would be too massive.
 

DownSouth

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I was hoping that with increases in fuel costs, that rail-based transport of freight would gain the upper hand over road-based hauliers, but not sure if this has been the case over the past few years.
There will always be some degree of balance between the two, and that's how it should be. If costs in Britain favour road transport at the moment, then the rail companies need to find ways to improve their service and provide a more competitive product. Where the balance lies will depend on the type and volume of freight as well as local factors, for example the short distances involved in Britain favour road freight, but in Australia there are a number of long distance major flows where as much as 95% of all land freight travels on rail.

Fuel costs on their own will never facilitate a wholesale switch to rail for general freight because rail cannot compete on the service required in many cases - mainly that stuff arrives at the required time and without having to contract a different road operator to get stuff from the rail terminal.

On the other hand, bulk freight is generally more suited to rail because it's less time sensitive and the volume of traffic can support the establishment of more direct links between industry and rail, like a siding on a line used only by local passenger services which would otherwise be converted to light rail.
 

142094

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I wonder if the just-in-time principle could work on the railways - although it would be difficult, and would need to be from distribution centre to distribution centre, as of course it would be unlikely to have every supermarket linked to rail. One idea that could be used is distribution hubs on the outskirts of major urban areas, where freight is channelled into by rail, then transferred to road for the last mile. Even better if the road haulage is by low carbon lorries and vans.
 

HSTEd

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I don't think having rail spurs to large numbers of new, increasingly large, supermarket/hypermarkets is a totally ridiculous idea really.

Most of these things tend to be built ont he outskirts of town as it is, and there have been some interesting development in lightweight track systems which make laying track for low axle weight trains (like swap bodies on an FMU for instance) less expensive.
 

apk55

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One disadvantage of using containers to carry minerals or coal is that the dead weight is increased. Container carrying flats are quite heavy as the base it has to take all the traction stresses. And the container is quite heavy. However on a mineral wagon the sides can contribute to strength.
On many coal or mineral trains the axle loading is at the limit so less load per unit length could be carried because of the extra dead weight, which would mean either more trains need to be run or longer trains with more motive power.
 

GB

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Even discounting the weight issues, I don't think any combination of containers on a flat offers the same sort volume of a bogie hopper.
 

DownSouth

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Whether specialised hoppers or containers are most suitable really depends on the volumes involved and the train service available. The use of containers for bulk freight in Australia is all about economy, not about volume, because the distances involved make it cheaper to run a long train of lighter vehicles at 115 km/h than it is to run a short and heavy train at 80 km/h. Basically they deliberately choose specialised containers because they carry a smaller amount and can run at the full intermodal speed limit. Loading/unloading is still not a problem, it being fairly simple for a crane to lift up and tip over a 20 foot bulk container, and containers are actually significantly easier to load on a ship.

A couple of copper mines in the Northern Territory near the Adelaide-Darwin railway use specialised containers because the volume they produce is low enough that they only load onto a couple of five packs* twice each week. The regular empty intermodal trains pick them up - the key being that the lower volume carried (and hence lower axle weight) allows the train to keep running at intermodal speeds. They could use more specialised hoppers, but that would cut the train's speed from 115 km/h to 80 km/h, which does make for a genuine difference in running costs - mainly manpower - on a journey over 3,000 km long.

On the other hand, a couple of mines on the southern part of the same line in northern South Australia do produce enough that they use unit trains with hoppers. The shorter distance involved between depots and the different operator's preferred style means that the 80 km/h speed restriction is a viable option.


* Sets of five intermodal wagons with bar couplings or shared TGV-style Jacobs Bogies between them. For low axle-weight situations like typical single-stack intermodal traffic the Jacobs Bogie versions make for better crashworthiness and a significant reduction in the amount of track wear and wagon maintenance.
 
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Holly

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The long term future for most of the world is TOFC (trailer on flat car) or rolling road (both tractor and trailer or rigid lorry, like the Chunnel).

Obviously that does not work with Britain's small loading gauge and existing equipment. What is needed is specifically designed railcars, road trailers and (downsized) containers that will fit. Even though this means a reduced and specifically designed non-compatible payload (fewer units per train and smaller units, unfortunately).

The success of the Le Shuttle and the Irish ferries show that this piggy-back approach is workable, especially in the face of ever more congested motorways.

Specially designed freight rolling stock and lorries. We can still do it despite the intentional wrecking of industry, it just takes the will to do so.
 

GearJammer

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The long term future for most of the world is TOFC (trailer on flat car) or rolling road (both tractor and trailer or rigid lorry, like the Chunnel).

Obviously that does not work with Britain's small loading gauge and existing equipment. What is needed is specifically designed railcars, road trailers and (downsized) containers that will fit. Even though this means a reduced and specifically designed non-compatible payload (fewer units per train and smaller units, unfortunately).

The success of the Le Shuttle and the Irish ferries show that this piggy-back approach is workable, especially in the face of ever more congested motorways.

Specially designed freight rolling stock and lorries. We can still do it despite the intentional wrecking of industry, it just takes the will to do so.

What do mean '(downsized) containers that will fit all'? Are you sugesting that the whole world uses smaller containers just so they will fit on the back of truck so the truck can fit on the UK's smaller loading gauge?

You also say 'especially in the face of ever congested motorways'? Well might i sugest that the congestion is caused 99% of the time by the amount of cars on the road and the incompetent muppets that drive them!

Lets leave frieght on the road where it works best and get people out of there cars and onto trains!
 

ainsworth74

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Well might i sugest that the congestion is caused 99% of the time by the amount of cars on the road and the incompetent muppets that drive them!

You might but I don't know if I'd agree with you. The number of times I've seen lorries trying to overtake each other on two lane dual carriage ways causing all kinds of congestion is too many to count (it isn't quite such an issue on a three lane motorway but even there it still causes problems when lorries block two of the three lanes). Reducing the amount of freight on the roads is almost certainly a sensible idea and I suspect that your vested interest in road haulage might be contributing to your refusal of this ;)
 

David

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You might but I don't know if I'd agree with you. The number of times I've seen lorries trying to overtake each other on two lane dual carriage ways causing all kinds of congestion is too many to count (it isn't quite such an issue on a three lane motorway but even there it still causes problems when lorries block two of the three lanes). Reducing the amount of freight on the roads is almost certainly a sensible idea and I suspect that your vested interest in road haulage might be contributing to your refusal of this ;)

I don't think his "vested interest" is clouding his judgment, as quite simply a lot of freight that is on the roads isn't economical or viable to be switched to rail.

For instance, how many of those lorries you see are all going to the same destination, or part of a regular flow from 1 point to another? It's quite likely that most of them have multiple loads on them. I posted an explanation about how multidrop and groupage works the last time this sort of subject came up (post number 5).

Anyway, he does have a point about cars being the prime cause of congestion. Go to any town at 0830 and count the number of cars on the road compared to lorries. You have the school run to contend with, as well as people driving to work as it's easier to get into the car instead of walking 500 yards to a bus stop at both ends of a journey ....
 
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