What is the purpose of freight yards today

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by ryan125hst, 2 Jun 2015.

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  1. ryan125hst

    ryan125hst Established Member

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    I’ve not previously been into freight trains much, probably due to the fact that they’re almost exclusively Class 66 hauled (through Retford at least) these days. However, I was watching some videos of steam trains in the 1950’s a few days ago when I decided to watch one called “Fully Fitted Freight” from 1957. I was fascinated by the goods trains of the day, loaded in goods yards all over the country, split and marshalled at marshalling yards that were also abundant before being sent to another marshalling yard elsewhere in the coutry. Eventually, the goods ended up at another goods yard for unloading. The wagons used even up to the 1970’s were based on designed that dated back to the Big Four, or even earlier than that, and it’s obvious that the railways were vital for the transportation of pretty much everything back then.

    I do have questions relating to this era, but that’s the topic of another thread! :D What I was wondering is, what are the freight yards that are still open used for today? I’m talking about the likes of Toton, Tyne Yard etc. I’m particularly interested in Doncaster Decoy and Belmont Yards as well as the sidings at Worksop as they are local to me.

    Now that freight trains are almost always block trains travelling from A to B, such as coal from a mine or port to a Power Station, before returning empty, there can’t be much need for marshalling anymore? I get the impression that they are used to store stock and for crew changes, but there seems to be very little information about them.

    So, what goes on at freight yards these days?

    Many thanks

    Ryan 
     
  2. 59CosG95

    59CosG95 Established Member

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    As you say, most of them are used to store wagons. Engineering train consists are also stored (and transported) between many of them as well e.g. Colas runs engineers' trains between Hoo Jn in Kent and Eastleigh in Hampshire, Eastleigh and Westbury in Wiltshire, and between Westbury and Bescot in the West Mids.

    Some wagons are moved between different freight trains at these yards, and some locos detach from their load to let another take over, such as at Ipswich, where Freightliner electrics take over from the diesels.
     
  3. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Eastleigh sees quite a number of container trains recessed awaiting onward movement during the peak periods for the passenger service, effectively they use a few roads nearer the running lines as the equivalent to up and down loops.

    Another major use of Eastleigh is loading and marshalling welded rail delivery trains, there's a rail welding plant alongside the east yard. Not sure if its the only one in the south, but I guess it has quite an important role.

    Oh and there's another significant use, that of the 'virtual quarry'. Ballast gets stockpiled after bulk delivery from the quarries, and they spend much of the week loading it into delivery trains.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jun 2015
  4. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    "Proper" shunting ceased in the late 1980's when Speedlink came a cropper - thoguh attaching and detaching portions of Freightliner trains goes on at places like Ipswich Top Yard and Crewe Basford Hall.

    Yards generally delayed traffic at a cost no road haulier would have countenanced. No disrespect to the hard work done there in the past by dedicated railwaymen.
     
  5. DownSouth

    DownSouth Established Member

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    This.

    You can tolerate the double handling and delays if you're transporting freight over such distances that road transport is impractical - but Britain is too small for that and therefore rail is not practical for non-bulk freight that isn't going to/from an international port.
     
  6. sarahj

    sarahj Established Member

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    I read somewhere that when the channel tunnel freight trains started they had to start doing shunting again at Wembley. This was due to fact that some wagonload trains were running. Not sure if they still have to do that now though!.
     
  7. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    I imagine if you were doing wagonload freight again from scratch (for political reasons or what not) it would likely be 20' containers.
    Shunting would consist of using a straddle crane to take the container off the inbound train and put it on the correct outbound one.
     
  8. 61653 HTAFC

    61653 HTAFC Established Member

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    If Healey Mills is anything to go by, the main purpose of freight yards is to provide a safe environment for foxes, rabbits, even deer.
     
  9. Jamesb1974

    Jamesb1974 Member

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    Last edited: 8 Aug 2016
  10. DownSouth

    DownSouth Established Member

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    Good point - you can use standard flatcars for just about anything, and strengthened flatcars for any bulk freight too heavy for standard ones where the volume is not high enough to justify investment in specialised hoppers.

    In Australia, even iron ore has been carried in kibbles mounted on ISO flatcars, from a couple of low volume mines where it was not viable to invest in heavy freight infrastructure. Instead, the use of flatcars allowed this loading to use cheap backhaul capacity on southbound Darwin-Adelaide trains with no infrastructure needed other than a hardstand next to an existing passing loop.

    Another option would be what would effectively be portion working, using semi-fixed formations where each 'set' would have a locomotive which could either lead its own set as a short train or act as a distributed power unit (Britain is probably the only first world country where DP is not used on freight) when making up a longer mainline train with other fixed sets.

    It wouldn't be innovative, just copying and adapting the practice used on a couple of the modernised coal chain runs in Queensland where the 120 wagon trains are made up of three fixed sets which each have an electric loco and 40 wagons. The purpose is not for marshalling trains to/from different routes but rather for enabling efficient detachment of a whole set to a maintenance rotation, but the same principle could apply.
     
  11. 33056

    33056 Established Member

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    Wembley Yard was built for Channel Tunnel trains and a certain amount of shunting had always been carried out there. IIRC the amount of shunting increased after EWS took over RfD in late 1997 and transferred the wagonload traffic from Transrail's Willesden Brent Yard.

    At certain times of the day Wembley used to have two shunting turns and was extremely busy, in addition to that shunting was also carried out in Willesden Euro Terminal, Willesden Brent (engineering trains) and Euston Downside Shed. In the late 1990s EWS had six class 08s based in the Wembley area (Wembley Yard x 2, Willesden Brent, Willesden Euro Terminal, Euston Downside and a spare), now there are none and the very small amount of shunting still carried out is performed by "mainline" engines when required.
     
  12. dysonsphere

    dysonsphere Member

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    Slightly off topic but if you want an idea of old style shunting try Marcroft wagon works Stoke on Trent splitting wagons out of rakes to seperate shops etc recption line alongside main line. all done in daylight with an 08 shunter and all visable from 2 handy overbridges on a public footpath crossing yard throat and main line recption siding.
     
  13. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    Just as an illustration of the delays, the average 'dwell time' of a wagon passing through a major wagon sorting yard in the US is 24+ hours, presumably measured from when it arrives in the reception tracks to when it leaves in another train from the departure tracks. If you are hauling it 2000 miles you can live with the delays provided the cost per ton is cheaper than a trucker would charge, and it's not very time-sensitive freight (which is why wagonload is still profitable business for US railroads). Otherwise it would go intermodal or all the way by truck (or block/unit train for bulk freight).

    At the other end of the time scale in the US, for long distance run-through freights 'pit stop' facilities have become popular in recent years, where a train will stop, be fuelled/sanded/inspected and sent on it's way - basically in the time it takes to refuel it. No swapping of locomotives, or sending them over to the loco servicing facility and back again for refuelling.
     
  14. ryan125hst

    ryan125hst Established Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far, it's interesting to read them. :)

    Going back to the first post though, does anyone know what the yards at Doncaster and Worksop are used for and the typical movements each day?
     
  15. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    Hither Green freight yard is now very much in use for EMU storage for Grove Park depot.
     
  16. Nippy

    Nippy Member

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    Acton Yard is relentless. Shunting day and night. Most of the stone trains come up from the quarries with 2 or 3 portions that then split at Acton going all over the place. Brentford, West Drayton ARC, Colnbrook, Hothfield, Ardingley, Harlow Mill, Marks Tey, Watford, Chelmsford, Parkeston, Crawley are among some that are served from Acton. They then return empty and get reformed and sent back down. It is a PITA to be honest, especially now we have to assist with the shunting.
     
  17. DBE

    DBE Member

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    Doncaster Up Decoy is mainly used for the formation of infrastructure services for possessions. Traffic also passes through the yard when travelling to the Freightliner Railport.

    Down Decoy is mainly a holding and relieving location now, with use mainly by GBRf. RMT no longer sees any mail services.

    Belmont Yard is another location used to stable infrastructure services, but also sees a bit more varied traffic than Up Decoy.

    Worksop is purely a HTA location nowadays, with trains being stabled or run round for travel to the power stations of West Burton and Cottam.
     
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