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RSSB unveils innovative carriage design for passenger and freight use

An innovative design has been released by the RSSB that allows seats on passenger services to be stowed away and carriages to be used for freight during off peak hours.

For the first time, carriages could be configured to carry passengers and also high-value freight when they are not being used.

The process of configuring carriages for passenger or freight use takes under three minutes and is fully automated, allowing for the carriage to be compressed to create cargo space equivalent to the capacity of an articulated lorry.

The idea has the capability to be retrofitted into existing carriages or integrated into new build designs and can be put into both steel-frame and modern aluminium rolling stock using cantilevered seats.

The seats, the RSSB said, are designed to “maximise passenger comfort and are specially engineered to add minimal extra weight to the carriage compared with existing industry standard seats”.

Seats, tables and draught screens in the carriage are connected and can be moved along the length of the carriage via a system that acts to cover the working mechanism whilst the carriage is in passenger service.

The RSSB said: “The carriage will help ease road congestion, cut emissions and provide faster delivery times for online customers.

“It was designed by 42 Technology, one of the winners of the Tomorrow’s Train Design Today competition.”

RSSB had a working demonstration module on display at Railtex 2017, which ended yesterday.



Jimbo   12/05/2017 at 10:13

It's not the 1st of April is it ? This is known as a solution looking for a problem. Is the freight industry crying out for suitable vehicles for carrying low volume, high value products ? and if there is already a demand for these vehicles, then there will be a business case for building suitable dedicated vehicles. So how much extra money will this be on the cost of a vehicle and where is the business case for that additional expense ? How will you ensure the equipment does not get damaged by loading freight into it ? A TOC is not going to want the seats and floors in its carriages to be damaged by having freight loaded into it. How do you fix the issue with having to tranship your valuable freight at both ends of the journey ? Where are the spare freight paths in the timetable to use these sorts of vehicles ? and so on. Someone at the RSSB has noted that trains used to have guards compartments for carrying mail, parcels etc. and so is trying to come up with a way of adding these back in on non-peak services, without realising that the railways lost that kind of business long ago and it isn't coming back. So RSSB, how about looking at the real problems facing the railways today ? like how do we modernise the infrastructure without breaking the bank ? To build suitable transhipment infrastructure for this crazy scheme would cost three times more than a truck depot because railway construction costs are so high.

Ezekial   12/05/2017 at 14:29

This does look like an innovation to bring about a renaissance in the way rolling stock is utilised. As it happens I would like to see this implemented but do not believe that it would be adopted. The prospect of the carriages being damaged by the freight cages would be the first issue. Along with transhipment. On the positive side the freight industry is working to develop aggregation schemes so many of the questions raised may already be in the process of being answered,

Manchester Mike   12/05/2017 at 15:00

I'm sure some of the freight boxes will go 'missing', even if they are locked up. Passengers with nought to do will find a way.

Adrian   12/05/2017 at 17:20

Didn't FGW trial something similar (albeit in the "guards van") on the Cornish Riviera sleeper services, aiming for the overnight fresh seafood market? Does anyone have info on whether that has been successful?

Chrism   12/05/2017 at 21:58

Yes Adrian, that FGW trial was successful I believe, But of course the BR IC125s have luggage vans, their replacements from Japan will not. This idea is quite innovative but it has to be said the market is not obvious. 40 years ago I can remember seeing almost new class 313s at Kings Cross loaded with mail sacks. That traffic has long gone.

Jerry Alderson   14/05/2017 at 11:30

Using empty carriages on passenger services for light goods (e.g. parcels) is a very good way to transport freight at low cost and generate extra revenue for passenger services. There are some niche cases of this at the moment e.g. seafood for the south west to London. Empty seats can be filled on intercity services by good pricing of advance fares. That isn't an option on most commuter serivces, and they are the ones with low seat utilisaiton off-peak - and also contra-flow services at peak times. Although security is probably quite easy to resolve the real issue is going to be timing. There is insufficient time to load and unload goods at intermediate stations (unless it is a very slick operation, akin to refreshment trolleys on trains) so it will only work on goods going from service origin to service destination (or in the case of long stops on itercity services). Moreover, turnaround times on some services is little mroe than five minutes. The lack of time at the platform immediately limits the potential of this idea. Perhaps there is some potential for splitting trains at larger (staffed) stations to give more time for loading and unloading.

Mikeb   14/05/2017 at 17:14

What sort of "freight" is RSSB contemplating could be carried on passenger trains? It is unlikely to be heavy industrial goods but, of course, parcels and mail are a possibility. However, the amount of traditional letters now being carried by Royal Mail is miniscule compared with that carried in the pre-electronic mail era and the old Collection & Delivery parcels service went to road transport some years ago and is unlikely ever return to rail. Nevertheless, a resurrection of Red Star Parcels, whereby customers bring their packages to the station, could be a possibility I suppose.

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