THEFIRST of 310 steel coil carrier wagons was formally handed over to English Welsh & Scottish Railway on July 27, marking the start of production at the new Thrall Europa factory in York works. Participating in the ceremonies were Thrall Car Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Craig Duchossois (right) and EWS Chairman & Chief Executive Ed Burkhardt.

Later this year the factory will roll out single prototypes of other types of wagon planned for EWS for acceptance testing. However, capacity constraints during the start-up of the York works mean that an initial batch of Eurospine articulated piggyback wagons for EWS will be built at a plant in Slovakia.

Six types of wagon are expected to feature in the initial tranche of 2500 vehicles ordered by EWS for delivery over the next five years. Work is due to start in February on a batch of flat wagons to carry 9ft 6in high containers within the restrictive British loading gauge. Further types of wagon will join the product range ’only as fast as we can design them’. In 1999 the York plant is expected to build between 500 and 1000 vehicles. Analysis of critical component facilities, such as the centre sill automatic welding unit, suggests a nominal capacity of 2000 vehicles a year. This should enable Thrall to meet its long-term ambition of breaking into the European market. o