"Piggyback" lorry trailer service France - Ashford.

BRX

Established Member
Joined
20 Oct 2008
Messages
2,852
In an overview of the service, Cargobeamer explains how the journey will be done. “Trailers arrive by train to the terminal in Calais, the shunting to Ashford is done by EuroTunnel. Custom border procedures are carried out on the freight shuttle, by Cargobeamer and Eurotunnel. After arrival in Ashford, the trailers are picked up within 24 hours by the end customer.”


The unique selling point of the service is that it is available for all types of trailers, including non-cranable ones. This is thanks to the Cargobeamer technology, which enables semi-trailers of all types to be lifted on a train. Both Calais and Perpignan are part of their network. Calais is the first terminal that entirely runs on this technology, which makes the process more efficient.


I just came across this, and haven't seen it discussed anywhere. I assume there's no scope to extend it to other locations in the UK (beyond HS1) because of loading gauge restrictions, so isn't especially good news for UK railfreight.

Partly follows on, perhaps, from the discussion in this thread

 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Ken H

On Moderation
Joined
11 Nov 2018
Messages
3,564
Location
N Yorks
there was a thing called road-railers. Semi trailers that had road and rail wheels. Could be hauled by a standard HGV tractor, or linked together in a train. The kit to make this possible as too heavy making the payload too small. There was a trial train ran in UK
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
12,499
Location
Airedale
So the trailers are loaded onto the Shuttle as far as Folkestone, offloaded there and taken (by road, presumably ) to a lorry park around Ashford for a UK haulier to pick up? Or have I missed something?
I suppose there is some post-Brexit advantage in this compared with the UK haulier doing the pickup at Calais?
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
20,943
Yep, there’s no way for continental gauge freight to leave HS1 at Ashford, so this must be transhipped from the Perpignan train and onto the lorry shuttles at Calais, and then driven to Ashford. Presumably unaccompanied through the tunnel to save some driver time.
 

jopsuk

Veteran Member
Joined
13 May 2008
Messages
12,694
yeah, reading that and other stories it appears to be that Eurotunnel/Getlink are supplying a fleet of tractor units & drivers to take the trailers through the Shuttle system and to a depot at Ashford for pickup by UK drivers.

I have seen proposals from similar systems (Modalohr) to build a terminal in London, running services up HS1- and I've found references to their wagons already having received Tunnel approval.
 

MackemPacer

Member
Joined
19 Oct 2019
Messages
13
Location
Cumbria
It would appear not to involve road transport through the Tunnel to Ashford, but by rail.

www.cargobeamer.com has details:

"The truck arrives at the terminal with a semi-trailer. Any type of semi-trailer can be loaded by CargoBeamer.
At the terminal, the semi-trailer is driven onto a waiting transport pallet and is uncoupled from the tractor unit.
The tractor can leave the terminal immediately or take a new semi-trailer directly. There are no waiting times at CargoBeamer.
As soon as the train has arrived, loading and unloading of all semi-trailers happens automatically and simultaneously. This loading and unloading procedure for an entire train only takes 20 minutes.
A completely reloaded train can then depart again. CargoBeamer thereby takes over the long haul portion of the trip by rail, which is cheaper, faster and saves 75% of CO2 emissions."

There is a photo of the pallet and rail wagon to be used on www.railfreight.com/intermodal/2021/09/17/cargobeamer-connects-french-intermodal-line-to-uk/?gdpr=accept as quoted by OP.
 

MackemPacer

Member
Joined
19 Oct 2019
Messages
13
Location
Cumbria
I wonder if this is or could be an extension of the Perpignan service or from one of their other terminals they serve; Domodossola (Italy), Calais (France), Kaldenkirchen & Duisburg (Germany), Poznan (Poland) and Ashford.
 

BRX

Established Member
Joined
20 Oct 2008
Messages
2,852
Yep, there’s no way for continental gauge freight to leave HS1 at Ashford, so this must be transhipped from the Perpignan train and onto the lorry shuttles at Calais, and then driven to Ashford. Presumably unaccompanied through the tunnel to save some driver time.
Oh right, I see.

That's why I've not seen anything about a new rail facility being built at Ashford - because there isn't one.

I don't entirely understand what the advantage is of having the pickup at Ashford rather than Folkestone - obviously slightly shorter journey for the hauliers but still a large number of lorry trips to get them there from Folkestone. Is it just to do with storage space?
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
20,943
Oh right, I see.

That's why I've not seen anything about a new rail facility being built at Ashford - because there isn't one.

I don't entirely understand what the advantage is of having the pickup at Ashford rather than Folkestone - obviously slightly shorter journey for the hauliers but still a large number of lorry trips to get them there from Folkestone. Is it just to do with storage space?
Not sure, but I suspect it could be storage space, and also ease of swapping the tractor units over. Keeps the ‘collecting’ tractor units out of the tunnel complex at Folkestone.

I wonder if this is or could be an extension of the Perpignan service or from one of their other terminals they serve; Domodossola (Italy), Calais (France), Kaldenkirchen & Duisburg (Germany), Poznan (Poland) and Ashford.

Not sure what you mean. This is a Perpignan - ‘Calais’ rail service, with a different type of wagon. Then the trailer units aiming for the U.K. are driven to Ashford like conventional lorries, firstly the 10km from the Cargobeamer terminal in Marck to the Eurotunnel terminal, then using the tunnel lorry shuttles, then Up the M20.
 
Last edited:

MackemPacer

Member
Joined
19 Oct 2019
Messages
13
Location
Cumbria
Not sure what you mean. This is a Perpignan - Calais rail service, with a different type of wagon
Is this a different type? From my reading, as there was no mention of a new or modified wagon I took it to be the same stock and thus could be used through the tunnel to Ashford.
Then the trailer units aiming for the U.K. are ‘tractored’ to Ashford like conventional lorries, but using the tunnel lorry shuttles for the cross channel bit.
I haven't seen any mention of this. What I have seen that the "shunting to Ashford will be done by EuroTunnel". I wonder if this mention, in the article on the railfreight.com website, of a freight shuttle is being incorrectly assumed to be 'Le Shuttle' drive on/off and therefore it must be rubber tyred to Ashford.

"In an overview of the service, Cargobeamer explains how the journey will be done. “Trailers arrive by train to the terminal in Calais, the shunting to Ashford is done by EuroTunnel. Custom border procedures are carried out on the freight shuttle, by Cargobeamer and Eurotunnel. After arrival in Ashford, the trailers are picked up within 24 hours by the end customer.”"

However, in a press release on https://www.cargobeamer.com/news/getlink-and-cargobeamer-team-up.html they mention that "Eurotunnel and CargoBeamer have signed a partnership which will see the launch of a new, 100% unaccompanied rail freight transport service across the Short Straits, from Calais to Ashford. The extension of the rolling motorway from Perpignan to Ashford is a logical step in developing a future international intermodal network between the Channel and the Mediterranean." which appears to suggest a through rail service.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
20,943
Is this a different type? From my reading, as there was no mention of a new or modified wagon I took it to be the same stock and thus could be used through the tunnel to Ashford.

I haven't seen any mention of this. What I have seen that the "shunting to Ashford will be done by EuroTunnel". I wonder if this mention, in the article on the railfreight.com website, of a freight shuttle is being incorrectly assumed to be 'Le Shuttle' drive on/off and therefore it must be rubber tyred to Ashford.

"In an overview of the service, Cargobeamer explains how the journey will be done. “Trailers arrive by train to the terminal in Calais, the shunting to Ashford is done by EuroTunnel. Custom border procedures are carried out on the freight shuttle, by Cargobeamer and Eurotunnel. After arrival in Ashford, the trailers are picked up within 24 hours by the end customer.”"

However, in a press release on https://www.cargobeamer.com/news/getlink-and-cargobeamer-team-up.html they mention that "Eurotunnel and CargoBeamer have signed a partnership which will see the launch of a new, 100% unaccompanied rail freight transport service across the Short Straits, from Calais to Ashford. The extension of the rolling motorway from Perpignan to Ashford is a logical step in developing a future international intermodal network between the Channel and the Mediterranean." which appears to suggest a through rail service.

The new type of wagon is the Cargobeamer. There is no facility at Ashford to unload them - it requires very specialist fixed equipment. Equally there is no connection off HS1 that leads to any freight facility at Ashford.

The press release is very careful not to mention how the trailers get from Calais to Ashford, other than using Eurotunnel. If it was rail borne the whole way, it would say so.
 

paul1609

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2006
Messages
5,063
Location
Wittersham Kent
Yep, there’s no way for continental gauge freight to leave HS1 at Ashford, so this must be transhipped from the Perpignan train and onto the lorry shuttles at Calais, and then driven to Ashford. Presumably unaccompanied through the tunnel to save some driver time.
Theres no rail connection at all to the Sevington Inland Border Facility which is adjacent to Junction 10A of the M20 and has capacity for 10k lorries. Its the wrong side of HS1 to all the other rail infrastructure but only 10 mins in a taxi from Ashford Station for incoming lorrydrivers. If you wanted to put in a UK side road/railfreight terminal you'd probably repurpose Dollands Moor Yard with new road infrastructure to Junction 11A.
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
12,499
Location
Airedale
The new type of wagon is the Cargobeamer. There is no facility at Ashford to unload them - it requires very specialist fixed equipment. Equally there is no connection off HS1 that leads to any freight facility at Ashford.

The press release is very careful not to mention how the trailers get from Calais to Ashford, other than using Eurotunnel. If it was rail borne the whole way, it would say so.
It actually refers to the Eurotunnel Freight Shuttle which rather clinches the point :)
The reference to "shunting" is I suspect a machine translation from French, but a quick hunt hasn't found an original.
 

BRX

Established Member
Joined
20 Oct 2008
Messages
2,852
Theres no rail connection at all to the Sevington Inland Border Facility which is adjacent to Junction 10A of the M20 and has capacity for 10k lorries. Its the wrong side of HS1 to all the other rail infrastructure but only 10 mins in a taxi from Ashford Station for incoming lorrydrivers. If you wanted to put in a UK side road/railfreight terminal you'd probably repurpose Dollands Moor Yard with new road infrastructure to Junction 11A.
I think there was actually a proposal to repurpose part of Dollands Moor for lorries, relatively recently. Hopefully one that will get nowhere.
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,762
Location
Milton Keynes
Theres no rail connection at all to the Sevington Inland Border Facility which is adjacent to Junction 10A of the M20 and has capacity for 10k lorries. Its the wrong side of HS1 to all the other rail infrastructure but only 10 mins in a taxi from Ashford Station for incoming lorrydrivers. If you wanted to put in a UK side road/railfreight terminal you'd probably repurpose Dollands Moor Yard with new road infrastructure to Junction 11A.
There isn't a rail connection at the moment, but the southern part of the site is immediately adjacent to the Sevington maintenance/depot yard, accessed off Sevington Loop. IF the will was there, you could relatively straightforwardly add a connection onto the Yard neck, before (less easily)* gauge clearing from Dollands Moor to Sevington via the Classic line. Would be very expensive, as well as requiring a solution to be found for Westenhanger and Sandling platforms (the piggyback trailers will almost certainly need the 'continental' platform profile). Repurposing Dollands Moor would be incredibly difficult and short-sighted, as it's in the middle of the high-speed running lines so expansion of the Yard is next to impossible.
I don't know much about business cases for this sort of thing but I suspect for it to be viable it would need more trains to run into it than there are paths through the Tunnel to accommodate.

*From a quick look at Google Maps, there's 4 tunnels, 2 stations and 9 Over-line bridges to be assessed and potentially cleared for GB+ gauge, not counting Signal Gantries, etc and Under-line bridges needing the lower sector cleared for the wider profile.
 

paul1609

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2006
Messages
5,063
Location
Wittersham Kent
I think you are confusing the new Sevington Inland Border facility which is immediately next to the M20 Junction 10A with the old freight clearance facility. The new facility is the opposite side of the SEML and HS1 to Sevington loops.
Dollands Moor is nearly unused under the current situation.
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,762
Location
Milton Keynes
I think you are confusing the new Sevington Inland Border facility which is immediately next to the M20 Junction 10A with the old freight clearance facility. The new facility is the opposite side of the SEML and HS1 to Sevington loops.
Probably, I don't know the area particularly well. Whatever it's name, there's a big lorry park shown on Google Maps south of the line that would have room to install a connection to Sevington Loop and the CargoBeamer equipment.
Dollands Moor is nearly unused under the current situation.
Maybe right this minute with everything that's going on, but give up the capacity now and it's gone. In 20 years time it's highly likely that space to hold trains out of the way of all 3 networks will be very valuable.
 

paul1609

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2006
Messages
5,063
Location
Wittersham Kent
Probably, I don't know the area particularly well. Whatever it's name, there's a big lorry park shown on Google Maps south of the line that would have room to install a connection to Sevington Loop and the CargoBeamer equipment.
Thats the old facilities it's called Waterbrook Park. It's about to be redeveloped in to a housing estate and wetlands to mitigate phosphate pollution in the Stour Valley to comply with environmental legislation.
 

Meerkat

Established Member
Joined
14 Jul 2018
Messages
5,561
So it would be theoretically possible to connect a Cargobeamer siding to HS1 right next to the inland border facility?
Obviously that requires paths between Dolland’s Moor and Sevington (and more awkwardly the slow turn off across the France bound line).
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,762
Location
Milton Keynes
So it would be theoretically possible to connect a Cargobeamer siding to HS1 right next to the inland border facility?
No. I was suggesting you could tie into the existing SEML Classic-line Sevington Loop, but paul1609 has explained that the aerial imagery is either already out of date or soon to be, making the land unavailable. Adding in a loop onto HS1 is not going to be feasible.
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
12,499
Location
Airedale
So it would be theoretically possible to connect a Cargobeamer siding to HS1 right next to the inland border facility?
Obviously that requires paths between Dolland’s Moor and Sevington (and more awkwardly the slow turn off across the France bound line).
Wherever you put it, you also require paths through the Tunnel, and those are at a premium in normal times, so you would want to run a full trainload of Cargobeamers - which is unlikely. Hence the company's neat solution.
 

furnessvale

Established Member
Joined
14 Jul 2015
Messages
4,228
Wherever you put it, you also require paths through the Tunnel, and those are at a premium in normal times, so you would want to run a full trainload of Cargobeamers - which is unlikely. Hence the company's neat solution.
By carrying their trailers on road wheels via the shuttle they also neatly get around the problem that, to make the service viable, they would have to charge their own "freight" trains considerably less than they charge through rail freight trains. Any attempt to charge themselves less would quickly see them in court.
 

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,893
there was a thing called road-railers. Semi trailers that had road and rail wheels. Could be hauled by a standard HGV tractor, or linked together in a train. The kit to make this possible as too heavy making the payload too small. There was a trial train ran in UK
These worked quite well in the USA, introduced in the 1950s, often pulled behind conventional freights. The additional weight of the rail wheels was not so much an issue with US road weight limits compared to the UK limits of the time, where it notably cut into payload. The UK trial also got nowhere due to a lengthy union dispute (which also affected the early Freightliner) of opposition to any independent delivery trucks, even from the owner of the goods, driving onto railway property at the transfer station, which was seen as wholly for the railway-employed cartage drivers.

USA came up with a second version where the railway wheels stay at the rail depot and are only attached during the transfer to rail.
 

Top