A PROTOTYPE of the CargoSpeed intermodal wagon loading system was unveiled near Chesterfield on July 29.

Being developed by BLG Consult, Warbreck Engineering and Newrail in collaboration with Cholerton Ltd, CargoSpeed is an attempt to use roll-on roll-off ferry concepts to reduce the time spent at rail terminals and lower the distance over which intermodal transport is viable.

A train of well wagons with removable decks arrives at a terminal, and stops between two raised platforms. A hydraulic ’pop-up’ column (below left)rises from a pit between the rails under each wagon, and twistlocks engage with the deck. The pop-up raises the floor above the wagon, and rotates it 36í clockwise to form a bridge between the platforms (below centre). A lorry is driven onto the bridge, the trailer unhooked, and the tractor driven off (right). The wagon deck swings back, and is lowered into place.

On arrival at the destination the deck is again raised, and the trailer hauled off one side of the wagon to be replaced by another waiting on the opposite platform. If the train arrives from the other direction, the deck can be rotated 144í anti-clockwise.

CargoSpeed can accommodate a standard 13·6m long, 4m corner-height semi-trailer within the B+ loading gauge, and the ability to use non-liftable trailers offers a potential 200 kg increase in lorry payload. Each wagon can be loaded independently, offering the possibility of ’bus stop’ services, with lorries being picked up and set down during 20min stops at yards along a given route.

Inventor Jack Brown estimates that at around €35000 each, pop-ups for a train of 30 wagons would cost around the same as a travelling gantry crane. The tolerances allow the wagon to be positioned up to 0·35m either side of the pop-up mid-position.

The first phase of the project was funded by the European Commission, but further funding is now being sought to develop CargoSpeed in co-operation with the rail and logistics industries; once teething problems are solved, it is hoped to demonstrate a fully-working prototype in October.

BLG Consult, Germany

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