Modern manufacturing techniques and logistics require reliable, time sensitive delivery of lower density and higher value goods. This presents a market opportunity for rail freight to grow, partly due to increasing congestion on roads, and mainly due to the need for reliable and environment friendly transport of goods. At the same time, to meet customer requirements, rail freight has to rise to the challenge of needing to be reliable and available, as well as complying with other market demands. Depending on the market segment these may be faster transport time, specialised goods systems, tracking and tracing, greater flexibility, lower prices or premium services. Furthermore in congested situations rail freight may have a competitive advantage compared to other modes of traffic. SPECTRUM will develop a rail freight train that provides a higher speed service for high value, low density and time sensitive goods with the performance characteristics of a passenger train.
SPECTRUM explores the market opportunities for transport of low density, high value (LDHV) goods, utilising new and innovative rail concepts. Focus is on the extension of existing 21st century rail services and more visionary rail logistics services. Early project proceedings set the foundations for detailing concepts by defining technological and operational requirements.
Preliminary research is built upon with an assessment of existing conceptual designs and a shift in focus to assess technical and operational requirements.
SPECTRUM develops a detailed design concept for a high performance freight train that is efficiently lightweight, has driving performance characteristics that facilitate mixed running with passenger services and is capable of accommodating the required types of freight container unit. Design work includes:
- Optimised, lightweight, energy efficient freight wagon structures
- High speed running gear, including brakes and vehicle dynamics
- Electrical systems and coupling arrangements
- The handling of freight container units
Ultimately, at least one demonstrator is produced in order to validate the innovative high performance freight train design solutions developed in the project. Demonstrators such as; the power conversion system that supports the reefers being carried, the running gear that supports high speed operation, critical aspects of the lightweight vehicle structure and the freight handling system are developed. 'Real life’ conditions in terms of scale, fabrication, installation maintainability and robustness are replicated.
Integrating rail freight with passenger services
Faster, more reliable and more flexible rail freight services are needed across Europe. An EU initiative designed a new freight train with similar performance to that of a passenger train.
Today's manufacturing techniques and logistics require reliable, time-sensitive delivery of lower density and higher value (LDHV) goods. This situation presents a market opportunity for the transportation of such freight by rail.
With EU funding, the 'Solutions and processes to enhance the competitiveness of transport by rail in unexploited markets' (http://www.spectrumrail.info/ (SPECTRUM)) project developed a freight train that is able to provide a more rapid service for LDHV goods.
Work began by defining and identifying the potential rail freight market. This involved analyses of global trends, market intelligence, case studies and transport demand.
Project members found that the potential time-sensitive LDHV market in Europe totals about 12 % of total freight. This 1.9 billion tonnes or so of cargo presents a huge market demand. Such a demand is in line with the broad concept of a freight train that offers faster services as the new types of markets evolve.
A complete design concept for a high-performance freight train was created that meets the operational specifications identified by the analyses. It includes detailed designs of a lightweight freight wagon, a vehicle bogie for enhanced ride features, a power conversion unit to provide power to refrigerated containers, and a city logistics freight handling system.
The train will be lightweight and function like a passenger train in terms of power, speed, acceleration and braking. It will also operate across domestic, national and international lines and routes with little restriction, and be capable of accommodating the required types of freight container units.
A cost-benefit analysis was one of the tools used to evaluate the solutions' value for money. It showed that the solutions are feasible and should lead to a shift from road to rail.
SPECTRUM is designing solutions tailored to a new market opportunity for rail freight to grow. The project will ultimately deliver a new rail freight offering that can compete with road and air in the manufacturing techniques and logistics sectors.