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European Railroad Discussion > Freight trains in Europe


Date: 12/27/07 05:22
Freight trains in Europe
Author: SantaFeRuss

Of the European countries, who runs the longest freight (cargo) trains? How many cars (wagons)? What is the average size of the freights in Europe? Tonnage wise, what is considered a heavy train? I know there are a lot of tunnel restrictions, but are there any doublestack container train operations anywhere in Europe?

Thanks.

SantaFeRuss



Date: 12/27/07 07:18
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: SOO6617

SantaFeRuss Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Of the European countries, who runs the longest
> freight (cargo) trains? How many cars (wagons)?
> What is the average size of the freights in
> Europe? Tonnage wise, what is considered a heavy
> train? I know there are a lot of tunnel
> restrictions, but are there any doublestack
> container train operations anywhere in Europe?
>
> Thanks.
>
> SantaFeRuss

Freight trains in most of Europe are allowed 600 to 750 meters in length, with 600 being more common but all countries are slowly working towards 750 meters for main freight routes. Tonnage wise the Iron Ore trains out of Rotterdam run 4000 metric tonnes (4400 US tons). Those lines built to Russian gauge and using Russian designed equipment can be longer and heavier (Baltic Republics, Poland one line only, Slovakia one line only). The route from Kiruna, Sweden to LuleƄ, Sweden and Narvik, Norway also sees longer and heavier Iron Ore trains. As for Doublestacks, the line from the port of Helsinki, Finland to Tampere, Finland has clearances and sees limited operations of doublestacked containers (ISO marine boxes). This is the only doublestacks operated in Europe, but, the Dutch built the new Betuwe Route freight line out of the port of Rotterdam with clearances under the cantenary for doublestacked marine containers. The Scandanavian countries have greater clearances amongst the standard gauge networks, Britain has the tightest clearances and requires special well-type flatcars to carry 9'6" Intermodal boxes on most routes. They are working to increase clearances on a few key routes so that boxes of that size can be carried on ordinary flatcars from the major ports to a select number of inland distribution centers. If you are interested in European freight send me a private message and I can point you to useful websites for more information.



Date: 12/27/07 21:56
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: AndyD

Here's one of those flat cars used in Britain. Note the platforms are lower than the typical couplings for British trains. It always fascinates me that the freight stock is as small as the already tight gauged passenger cars in Britain (especially the Class 66 locomotives which as I understand are essentially SD70s under the hood).




Date: 12/27/07 22:10
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: s160280

In the 1970's when I was railroading on the DB for the U S Army they kept the armor trains to 30 ssym heavy flats with one M60 tank on each car, plus one passenger car of Railway MP's on each end. Most military trains were 30 cars long that we sent out. I got use to those short trains and then came back home to the long ones. Walking the air test over there is easy.

S160280



Date: 12/28/07 06:12
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: birdman

Keep in mind that in Europe most freight trains run at or near passenger train speeds and that freight trains are timetabled just like passenger trains. This is necessary due to the high traffic density on most main lines. The exception are the dedicated high speed lines traversed by TGV, etc. Also, there is practically no slack in a european freight train due to the coupler and buffer arrangement. Because of the type of coupler in use in Europe, freight trains must be shorter due to the lower tonnage ratings for couplers. In addition, it is not uncommon for main lines in Europe to approach 3 percent grades on lines in mountainous areas. By the way, the line speed on the Gotthardbahn and Loetschbergbahns in Switzerland is 50 mph for passenger and most freight trains and this is on grades of 2.7 percent.



Date: 12/28/07 06:34
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: ChS7-321

In France, my observation has been that most freight trains are just about 20 cars long.

Freight trains in the former USSR (Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, etc) can be over a kilometer long, and weigh in at 6000 tons. The key here is the SA3 central automatic coupler which allows for North American-like train lengths and tonnage.

The railways of Finland are interesting in that they are built to the Russian gauge and clearances, and has both types of equipment - the standard European screw coupler, and the SA3. Domestic freight cars are equipped with just the screw and buffers, while the cars used for interchange traffic to Russia (mostly lumber) have the SA3. All mainline locomotives are equipped with a hybrid coupler that allows them to couple to both types of equipment.



Date: 12/28/07 10:29
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: kudzu44

On the Mierlo-Hout railcam in the Netherlands, almost all freights that I've seen are less than 40 cars, including ore, auto racks, container, and manifest. See http://www.railcam.nl/. An extremely busy line with 100-120 trains a day-- mostly passenger traffic, but a lot of freights, too, especially at night. An entertaining site with good video and sound. They're 6 hours ahead of Eastern time.



Date: 12/28/07 12:07
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: 86235

In the UK the heaviest and longest trains are those operated by Mendip Rail - the rail division of the quarrying companies Hanson and Foster Yeoman. They operate what are called Jumbo trains of 40+ bogie hoppers weighing in excess of 3000 tonnes. They operate between Westbury (about 90 miles west of London) and Acton Mainline Yard in West London, over the same lines that First Great Western operate long distance and commuter passenger trains. They are class 7s which means a maximum speed of 45 mph. To be able to successfully operate such trains in with 100 mph+ intercity services and the 75 mph+ commuter operations is a timetabling nightmare, although it does mean that they run to a pretty predictable schedule.

Once at Acton the trains are subdivided and then go off to serve a number of stone terminals in and around South East England.

Their return is a similar operation; the disparate portions are reunited at Acton and work back to the quarries as empty Jumbos.

EWS have also been experimenting with longer coal trains between Scotland and the power stations in the Aire and Trent Valleys, basically by combining two of their 18 HTA hoppers sets double headed by a pair of 66s. This was done to economise on track occupancy.

Elsewhere Freightliner and EWS inter-modal trains run at 75 mph (class 4s) but train lengths are usually no more than 24 60' flats. the picture is of an EWS inter-modal service from Wakefield in the North of England to Felixstowe; Britain's principal east coast port. It was running down the fast line on the ECML at Offord (about 50 miles N of London) at 75 mph hauling 19 loaded flats





Date: 12/28/07 13:00
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: ProRail

birdman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Keep in mind that in Europe most freight trains
> run at or near passenger train speeds and that
> freight trains are timetabled just like passenger
> trains. This is necessary due to the high traffic
> density on most main lines. The exception are the
> dedicated high speed lines traversed by TGV, etc.
> Also, there is practically no slack in a european
> freight train due to the coupler and buffer
> arrangement. Because of the type of coupler in
> use in Europe, freight trains must be shorter due
> to the lower tonnage ratings for couplers. In
> addition, it is not uncommon for main lines in
> Europe to approach 3 percent grades on lines in
> mountainous areas. By the way, the line speed on
> the Gotthardbahn and Loetschbergbahns in
> Switzerland is 50 mph for passenger and most
> freight trains and this is on grades of 2.7
> percent.

While we're on the subject (sort of), does anyone here know whether the TGV mail train La Poste carries only letters or also light, high-value parcels?



Date: 12/29/07 04:16
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: SantaFeRuss

Thanks a million! You guys have given me a wealth of information. Very different operations there in Europe. Thanks for the photos.

I checked out the railcam at http://www.railcam.nl/ and that is real cool. Saw 3 passenger trains in about 15 minutes. No freight. Thanks for that site, kudzu44!

I wonder what European railfans think when they come over to check out our freights here in the states. 140 car freights with 3,4, and 5 units. Masive doublestack trains with 170 platforms. They probably think we are crazy!

SantaFeRuss



Date: 12/29/07 06:44
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: PumpkinHogger

Far out! A real-time cam WITH sound!



Date: 01/01/08 13:57
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: czephyr17

Great camera, thanks for bringing to our attention. What is real interesting is to study the pedestrians at the crossing when the gates go down, which seems to be much longer than the lead time we are used to here in the US. I watched a group of about half a dozen pedestrians come up to the crossing and just stand and wait for at least 45 seconds to a minute before the train arrived. There is a pedestrian gate, but it looks like it could easily be walked around; that sure is different than the behavior you would see here in the U.S.

It's also amazing to see almost every train on time right to the minute!



Date: 01/03/08 13:42
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: 86235

SantaFeRuss Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I wonder what European railfans think when they
> come over to check out our freights here in the
> states.

We love it.



Date: 01/03/08 13:57
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: SOO6617

Freight Train Schedules for the Netherlands are available here;

http://home.planet.nl/%7Erolandrail/46a-tdr10-09-07.pdf



Date: 01/05/08 13:55
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: SD70M

Like 86235, I'm a Brit who has become totally addicted to the US freight scene. Going back to West Colton in late April- can't wait!



Date: 01/05/08 13:59
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: 86235

SD70M Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Like 86235, I'm a Brit who has become totally
> addicted to the US freight scene. Going back to
> West Colton in late April- can't wait!
I'm off to Houston to bash the Kansas City Southern in early March with a friend from Naperville, IL. Counting the days.



Date: 01/06/08 08:59
Re: Freight trains in Europe
Author: tp117

If you consider Russia to be a European country for your survey, then the longest and heaviest freight trains are there. The typical Russian all purpose gondola (one quarter million cars) weighs 25 US tons and carries 75, for 100 gross. Other cars are a little lighter if fully loaded, except some eight axle bogie tank cars, appx 8600 in service, and eight axle other types which seem to be rare. I once asked a question about Russian train length on this site a year or more ago. Since then I've been able to answer my own question using Google Earth. Find a Russian main line, zoom in on a freight train and use the measuring tool and you will find that almost all tarins are .60 to .63 miles, or one kilometer. it seems if trains are purposely sized to that length because you rarely see one shorter except for passenger trains. The sidings on The BAM are one kilometer. If you measure the tracks at most terminals you will also find them to be a kilometer in length also.

I was checking the southernmost main east from Omsk last night and found about 10 freights one kilometer long, with two electrics (one loco, like a VL80). As for car count that depends on car type. One kilometer will amount to about 80 short tank cars, 70-73 gons, 55 container flats, and fewer if auto carriers are included.

I did find one exception, on the northernmost main east of Omsk. an EB train of gons with 120 cars, like it was two trains coupled together because the second loco was 60 cars back. I do not know if that is common, a test, or one train helping another. That stretch is very straight and I presume almost level, thru the tiaga.



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