Tarmac jumbo train

UK: Taking advantage of the reduced demand for passenger travel during the coronavirus pandemic, Freightliner ran a trial 39-wagon ‘jumbo’ train on March 16-17 transporting aggregates from Tunstead quarry south of Buxton in the Peak District to Wembley Yard in London on behalf of Tarmac.

Trains on the route normally carry up to 2 400 tonnes, but the longer train moved a total of 3 840 tonnes. It was hauled by a single GE Transportation Class 70 diesel locomotive, with an unpowered EMD Class 66 for contingency.

Having travelled via the West Coast Main Line, the train was split into two portions upon arrival at Wembley Yard in London. From there, 20 wagons were taken on to Battersea and 19 to Paddington New Yard.

‘The pandemic has made us all think differently, and in rail freight’s case we’re taking advantage of the space available in the timetable’, said David Hunter, Senior Route Freight Manager for Network Rail. ‘It is the first time we’ve seen a train of this weight and length take this route. By transporting more and further afield, we’re showing how the rail industry is building back better — adapting more efficiently to the needs of our economy and environment.’

Further trials are planned, and Freightliner is working with Network Rail to identify opportunities to reschedule services to make better use of network capacity by running longer trains.