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The Old Westbahn (2)

by DoDo Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 07:48:35 AM EST

I'm continuing my documentation of Austria's old Westbahn, based on photos I took this April, the last spring when all trains (including long-distance ones) were climbing the mountains.

To recap the context: the Westbahn, running west from Vienna to Salzburg, is Austria's busiest mainline. To increase capacity and speeds, the Vienna–Linz stretch is being quadruple-tracked. The project is broken into several sections, with work on-going since the nineties. The most challenging section is right at the start: between Vienna and St. Pölten, where the old line crosses a pass of the Wienerwald mountains at the end of the Alps, the extra two tracks get a more level alignment with a 26 km base tunnel. This section enters service at the end of this year, around the 154th anniversary of the classic line.

In part 1, I followed the climb from the outskirts of Vienna to the summit of the Wienerwald crossing; this part will cover the descent on the western side.

A triple-voltage "Taurus" of Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB (factory type Siemens EuroSprinter ES64U4) climbs towards Vienna near Unter Oberndorf. The livery is an advertisement; there was a second loco with a nicer advertisement livery (for Austria's federal police!) doing its rounds at the time but I didn't manage a good photo. In the distance on the right: the castle of Neulengbach


The western descent from Rekawinkel to Neulengbach follows a creek named Anzbach, high on the southern valley side, and ends with the crossing of the north–south valley of the Laaberbach. I reproduce the map I adapted from Thorsten Büker's rail map site:

The western side of the Wienerwald mountains is more agricultural in nature. After Rekawinkel, the descent starts with two tunnels and a few curves in a forest, then on the outskirts of Eichgraben, the first hillside field provides good sight on the line. The photo shows a westbound limited-stop REX train (the third level of local trains, running well beyond St. Pölten), formed of an old class 1142 loco and double-deck coaches.

The same spot is passed by a Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) class 470 (a dual-system Siemens ES64U2) with a westbound RoLa (piggyback train for lorries, international designation is short for "rolling country road" in German). These fast freight trains will most likely switch to the new line, too.

At Eichgraben, the line crosses the side valley of the Nagelbach creek in a large horseshoe curve, starting right after the above field. Looking west into the valley of the Anzbach, a Salzburg-bound two-trainset railjet (ÖBB's "flagship" long-distance passenger trains) passes in front:

The centrepiece of the horseshoe curve is a viaduct. The only good spot for photos is on a private path, on which I didn't go past a "sharp dog on the loose" warning sign... But, at the foot of the viaduct, there was this old tank engine:

Right after the viaduct, the horseshoe curve approaches the station of Eichgraben-Altlengbach in a cutting. Here one of ÖBB's dual-system "Taurus" (Siemens ES64U2) locos climbs the mountain towards Vienna with a freight train of coal or ore wagons.

Again above the Anzbach, the next gap in the forest on the valley side is right after Unter Oberndorf. An ICE‑T semi-high-speed electric multiple unit (EMU), this one owned by ÖBB, runs the bi-hourly ICE service to Frankfurt:

20 seconds and 400 metres later, the same train meets its Vienna-bound sister (an ICE‑T owned by German Railways DB):

The valley widens towards Maria Anzbach. Around here, on 31 December 1930 and again a month later, mysterious railway terrorist Sylvester (or Hungarian: Szilveszter) Matuska committed his first two attempts at derailing trains. While these two attempts were unsuccessful resp. caused only minor damage, the next at Jüterbog (south of Berlin, Germany) caused several injuries and the last one against the Orient Express at Biatorbágy (west of Budapest, Hungary) resulted in two dozen deaths and was used as excuse for a clampdown on communists. Below, a Stadler KISS double-deck EMU of open-access operator WESTbahn is about to pass the station of Maria Anzbach en route to Vienna.

Further downhill is the abandoned stop of Hofstatt, where another "Taurus" with an eastbound IC is running downhill. In the distance above the loco, the church of Maria Anzbach.

The Anzbach and Laaberbach creeks merge into the Große Tulln river. The valley sides meet in a last hill, with the castle of Neulengbach on top. A Salzburg-bound two-trainset railjet reaches the cutting across the saddle behind the castle hill – here it is well visible that railjet trainsets are merely fancy push-pull trains with repainted dual-voltage "Taurus" locos:

The other end of the cutting is the station of Neulengbach Stadt, a listed architectural heritage. Below, a view of the wooden platform building above the pedestrian underpass.

A class 1144 with standard coaches as an all-stopper R train (the second level of local trains, runs until St. Pölten) passes the old blockhouse [signalman's house] on the edge of Neulengbach Stadt station, starting the crossing of the valley of the Laaberbach, where the descent visibly ends. At the other side of the valley is Neulengbach station.

Another of WESTbahn's KISSes passes in front of the castle of Neulengbach on a photo from the valley of the Laaberbach:

The centrepiece of the valley crossing is a massive old stone viaduct with nine openings and a total length of 186 m. Unfortunately, city development didn't consider tourists with cameras: the best view (with the castle in the background of the viaduct, would be from the western valley side) is obstructed by trees, and even the southern views from the valley bottom are partially obstructed by an ugly modern school building. The photo below also indicates the challenges of photographing in April weather.

Below the view from the shore of the Laaberbach, with a mixed single/double-deck REX on top of the viaduct. There was no recognisable system in the use of rolling stock, BTW: both R and REX services could be anything between single-deck, double-deck and mixed trainsets and Talent EMUs, and the same service in the same hour could be done with different rolling stock types on different days.

The least obstructed view on the Laaberbach viaduct is from a multi-storey car park under the castle. However, even morning sunlight barely touches the north side as a "Taurus" hurries towards Vienna with an IC:

The third and last part will portray the hilly terrain towards St. Pölten.

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

Display:
Besides the tracks addition, take one: another sunlit spot races across a grove in the valley below Neulengbach.

Take two: looking at Eichgraben in the valley of the Nagelbach. The church at the bottom is called the Wienerwald Cathedral but was built just 61 years ago, right next to an older neo-gothic chapel – but I suspect nowadays the chapel is enough on normal Sundays again...

(Who can spot the signs of the near and far sides of the railway's horseshoe curve?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 07:47:44 AM EST
How come the rails are all grey and unrusted?  Are they galvanized?
by njh on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 02:07:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll ask a track specialist next time I meet one; but surely not galvanized. Speculating:
  • higher-quality steel probably rusts slower,
  • high traffic load means rails are dried in rain faster and flying iron and rust dust is removed faster,
  • maybe ÖBB also uses track vacuum cleaner trains,
  • higgher traffic also means more machine oil gets sprayed on the rails, which can act as protective layer.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:20:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't really have rola trains in the UK, but I am surprised that they aren't very common from Hungary to Turkey and Greece, avoiding the truly terrible roads through Romania & Bulgaria.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 09:27:55 AM EST
I suspect that rola's don't fit the UK loading gauge?
by njh on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 02:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no, but they should be a big feature of those E European routes

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 02:40:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The main competitive advantage of piggy back freight is over longer distances than most UK freight can go before running out of island.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jul 15th, 2012 at 11:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't there a tunnel connecting to the rest of europe?
by njh on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 10:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But there's also a loading gauge restriction on mot UK railways. The best you could do currently is run the lorries into central london (and nobody wants that)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 12:21:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is an intermodal terminal at Barking, accessible from the UIC gauge High Speed One, and there are projects to use it at last with cross-Chunnel trains too. I reported in Rail News Bloggings that both the Modalohr system (which only carries the semi-trailers but is actually faster to load and more weight-efficient than RoLa) and a more traditional semi-trailer piggyback car (currently in use along the Rhine corridor) got permission to run through, and there are specific plans with dates for regular service at least for the second.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 12:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the constraint on the loading gauge restriction height or width? A roadrailer would be designed around the ruling loading gauge in effect:

I've helped unload one of these, when I was working in the warehouse.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 01:16:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Height. British loading gauge would only allow containers to be carried, not lorries

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 01:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In effect, both height and width are a problem: traditional European loading gauges have a more curved roof section than American ones, and the key for any kind of intermodal is corner height. Making rail lines suitable for high-cube containers (height 9'6" instead of 8') resp. 4-metre standard height European trucks is a challenge in continental Europe, too (for example, in long tunnels in Switzerland, the solution was to lower the trackbed and replace the catenary with roof third rail). Check extended UIC profiles on page 22 of this document, which also shows the British profiles on later pages.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:34:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wanted to comment this, too.

On the loading gauge aspect:

  • The most advanced US roadrailer system (it's suitable for high speeds, at 70 mph actually higher speeds than most European low-floor solutions) is the RailRunner's Terminal Anywhere. They don't actually give the figure anywhere, but it appears that the wheeled end of their standard semi-trailers is lifted 9' (contact surfaces at c. 40' resp 49' above rail), that's about 230 mm.
  • Modalohr loading height is 207 mm.
  • Another new rotating chassis solution from Europe, Megaswing, has a loading height of 270 mm.
  • Classic RoLa is between 310 and 480 mm (the higher end of the range is the minimum height possible above the bogies, but many car types have lowered paths between the bogies).

The pros and cons of these systems also include weight:
  • Terminal Anywhere leads by leaps and bounds in train tare weight on unit length: 0.73-0.83 t/m, of which the bogie contributes 0.39-0.5 t/m. From what I can find, they even achieved this without substantial increase in semi-trailer tare weight, in spite of the need for specialised chassis with higher structural strength.
  • Necessitated by the double chassis (static and rotating parts), Modalohr cars are heavy: 1.27 t/m.
  • Megaswing cars don't have a double chassis, but have parts that need to be specially strong too: hence a tare weight by unit length of 1.22 t/m (single version) resp. 1.12 t/m (twin version).
  • Classic RoLa cars are in the range 0.85-1.1 t/m (newer ones tend to be lighter).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 02:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point I was raising regarding loading gauge with the Roadrailers was piggyback loading gauge, not container loading gauge.

Given the way that the Roadrailers carry their road tires a short distance above the rail, there is no way any piggyback with the tires sitting on a rail car can fit inside the same railway loading gauge with the same interior cargo height as a RoadRailer. And a Roadrailer would be designed for the ruling loading gauge of the network it runs on. Any piggyback trailer with the same capacity per length, will be higher than an equivalent Roadrailer, or conversely any Roadrailer with the same external height above the rail as an equivalent piggyback will have a greater capacity per length.

The Railrunner is not a normal Roadrailer, its a chassis for a standard container that converts it into a road railer. The bogie is a separable unit that replaces the semi truck with a rail truck, but that is how the newest Roadrailers do it as well ~ the original Roadrailers of the 1950's had bogies that lifted up out of the way when on the road and then were dropped down and locked into place to carry the trailer on the tracks, but a separate bogie is the more effective solution ~ if you normally send the truck out and then it returns to the same railhead, carrying the bogie as deadweight there and back is not the most effective solution. Also, that allows a single rail coupling bogie on either end of a string and a specialized inter-trailer bogie in between the trailers in the string.

The Railrunner would be a more comfortable fit for the CargoSprinter type of system, though, since the control pass through between lead motor unit and trailing motor units could be built into the chassis and the connection tested in-cab when the consist is marshalled.

The highest profile Roadrailer service in the US is the Triple Crown, established in the 1980's by the Norfolk Southern and since the 90's joined by BNSF to include service between Kansas and Texas.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 05:52:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point I was raising regarding loading gauge with the Roadrailers was piggyback loading gauge, not container loading gauge.

That's what I compared, too (with a typo: should be 9" for Terminal Anywhere, not 9'): whether the semi-trailer carries containers or not is not the issue here. (I couldn't find figures or drawings to estimate the lifting height of normal Roadrailers.) Lifting 230 mm above rail is not that much, and it actually appears somewhat less in practice due to the difference from spring suspension and tire deformation of the trailer road wheels (and possibly also because it appears as if the front part of the trailer is lifted less, something like 2").

Can you find figures on RoadRailer lifting heights? The Wikipedia photo appears to show a lower lifting height than Terminal Anywhere (my rough visual estimate is 150 mm), but it's not clear to me whether the other end of the trailer is lifted already.

the original Roadrailers of the 1950's had bogies that lifted up out of the way when on the road

There is a modern version, too: American Surface Lines' RailMate, but I suspect anything with deadweight carried around is a stillborn idea.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 02:01:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it was the case with Royal Crown through Mark IV, so not exactly stillborn ... its just the gas cost is not worth the flexibility of being able to leave from one railhead and return from a different one. In practice, they come back to the same railhead where they left the rail to hit the road.

I'd assume that the separate bogies are also worth some increase in top speed.

Here's an almost end-on view of a Triple Crown Roadrailer consist:


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 12:09:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RailAnywhere is a chassis that holds a container, so its about extending the Roadrailer system from bimodal to true multi-modal. You could load a consist of those chassis on a rail loading track dockside and then split them up to separate destinations thousand of miles away at different road/rail railheads.

The chassis means that the bottom internal floor of the container is higher above the rail than with the original Roadrail approach, but for standard containers & singlestack, clearances are not such an issue.

When just replacing piggyback, there isn't a separate chassis, just a bogie holding up the trailer, with the trailer specialized for running in both modes, and the internal floor of the freight trailer is closer to the tracks than with any piggyback railcar.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 12:20:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
RailAnywhere is a chassis that holds a container, so its about extending the Roadrailer system from bimodal to true multi-modal.

Are you sure we are talking about the same thing? On the official site of RailRunner, all photos and graphs of the Terminal Anywhere system show a bi-modal system consisting of semi-trailers specialized for running in both modes (chassis with road wheels and fifth wheel coupler on and with specialised ends for railroad mode) and bogies only. The only difference seems to be that in Terminal Anywhere the trailer is lifted by being pushing up a slide on the bogie, while if I read my sources right, in classic RoadRailer the trailer is raised by active operation of its suspensions. Here is a RailRunner video showing both the jacking-up and jacking-down of a semi-trailer on the bogie:

It doesn't appear to be any higher than a standard North American semi-trailer or a Triple Crown trailer, either,having similar fifth wheel heights and being 13,5' high when loaded with a high-cube container (which would be 11 cm higher than a standard European semi-trailer, however, so they'll need to modify the trailers if their tentative European export plans are to come to anything).

BTW, what is the top speed of classic Roadrailers on rail?

closer to the tracks than with any piggyback railcar.

Quite likely, but by how much? 50 mm, 100 mm, 150 mm? Again, do you have any figures on the wheeled end lifting height? I again couldn't find any, even with the Triple Crown help. Here I find a good side view, but the 135 mm I estimate between road wheel and rail (based on the trailer interior height data) isn't really useful.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 01:58:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you sure we are talking about the same thing? On the official site of RailRunner, all photos and graphs of the Terminal Anywhere system show a bi-modal system consisting of semi-trailers specialized for running in both modes (chassis with road wheels and fifth wheel coupler on and with specialised ends for railroad mode) and bogies only.

Yes, and those semi-trailers are composed of two parts: a chassis that accepts standard containers, which holds the freight. So the internal floor to internal ceiling dimensions for the freight capacity are determined by the container used, whereas with the Roadrailers, there is no separate chassis and freight container, its an integrated unit, and the internal floor to internal ceiling dimensions for the freight capacity are whatever you build it to.

Indeed, if there is a more "rounded" loading gauge in the target network, the top of the Roadrailer trailer could be made higher and the freight capacity larger by putting the top higher than a rectangular box will allow, and slanting the sides near the top.

Now, I presume that the Roadrailer is designed within the AAR standard loading gauge, but so long as it fits within the STRACNET loading gauge:

... if there is a loading gauge constraint on some shortline between the STRACNET corridor and the origin/destination loading dock, it can just hit the road.

Railrunner may well have to work through European loading gauge issues if they are aiming for the European market. Its not likely to be a binding constraint for them given the standard AAR loading gauge to work with. A conventional Roadrailer would not be the same challenge, as you just design the trailer dimensions to suit the target market.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 03:40:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, so you meant to differentiate between container-carrying and standard enclosed semi-trailers? However, that's not a core difference between RoadRailer and RailRunner's Terminal Anywhere technology (particularly if I interpet RailRunner's note about "a trailer solution can also be made available" right), and I don't think there can be that much difference in freight capacity.

IMHO the limiting factors in a US context are not AAR- but road-related: the 13.5' outer height limit and the standardised 47-49" fifth wheel height. So the front end external height of the cargo-holding structure cannot be larger than 115". A high-cube container is 114". So what about the inside? Checking figures, high-cube container internal height is 106", while Triple Crown dry vans have an inside height of 110" at the front and 112.25" in the rear. So in effect the 4" thick bottom of the container (about 10 cm) and a slope 2.25" high at the end is what's gained.

If RailRunner (or any new RoadRailer version) comes to Europe, they'll need to lower their stuff by about 10 cm to fit roads, but fortunately that won't reduce the cargo height: both the road vehicle height limit (4 m or about 13'2") and the standard fifth wheel heights (seem to be between 950 and 1,150 mm, or about 37" and 45") are lower.

if there is a more "rounded" loading gauge in the target network, the top of the Roadrailer trailer could be made higher

If a trailer is designed to fit the rounded corners of older railway loading gauges in Europe, then it will have a smaller capacity than a standard road trailer while already being more expensive as a special rail-ready construction, and thus be at a disadvantage.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO the limiting factors in a US context are not AAR- but road-related

That's what I said ~ its not an issue that has had to be considered in the US context, given US common loading gauges.

If a trailer is designed to fit the rounded corners of older railway loading gauges in Europe, then it will have a smaller capacity than a standard road trailer while already being more expensive as a special rail-ready construction, and thus be at a disadvantage.

But if it has the potential to extend the advantages of a Roadrailer in operating costs per trailer (labor/fuel) from the southeast of England into the Midlands or the North / Scotland, they could well be the dominate advantage. It depends on the number of trucks required to carry the freight ~ when you start combining the labor savings and the fuel savings for an eight trailer load, it starts to add up.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 02:22:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see a 1999 info sheet (pdf) for the Triple Crown rolling stock as 55mph (88km/h) empty, 60mph (96km/h) loaded. I don't know what the practical speed limit would be for the design in general, as there isn't market pressure in the US to go any faster. A Cargosprinter style consist would have the advantage of distributing braking along a train, which is what limits Roadrailers to either a unit train or a unit of Roadrailers at the end of a train.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 03:54:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you expand on the braking comment? From what I read, in both the Triple Crown RoadRailer and RailRunner's Terminal Anywhere, the trailers have an inbuilt railroad brake hose and bogies are braked, so braking is distributed. (The brake connection is shown in the RailRunner video.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I may have misread the information sheet I linked to. On re-reading, it talks about the Roadrailers not having manual parking brakes. Rather, they have brakes engage when a certain time interval has passed without pressure on the brake hoses.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 03:45:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And its used for piggyback, but piggyback of whole trucks.

As DoDo says, more conventional piggyback systems, therefore able to be loaded from various points in continental Europe, are in the process of being established. But that seems like its still treating freight across Britain as a last mile problem.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 01:20:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nitpick: the second system I mentioned, in with lorries have to be lowered into the wagons by cranes, is more conventional than RoLa, but the Modalohr system isn't, it's actually more advanced.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:02:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought that was the more advanced version of the conventional approach of moving container from truck to train and back again ~ rather than picking containers up it slides them around, and since the sliders are far less capital intensive than cranes, it allows for far more parallel movement in loading and unloading.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a system for moving containers, but for parking semi-trailers (so the road tractors and their drivers don't have to idle and don't use up space and traction energy by travelling on the train). IMO a turning slider container system would speed up loading at the train-to-truck end, but not at the train-to-ship or train-to-train end.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:44:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The slider system doesn't turn, it has special railcars that have sides that drop down to allow the trailer to be slid on, and then lift up to clamp the load. So its different to Modalohr, but similar in that its conventional piggyback dual-mode freight/truck, which is the same space that Railroaders compete in. Whether they are general purpose piggyback or require special trailers, I don't recall.

The Modalohr system looks to allow conventional piggyback freight of general purpose trailers. Remember that I was a teenager in the 70's, so I think of piggyback freight as the "conventional" multi-modal that was so commonplace in the 70's, and container rail / road / ship / barge as the more modern approach that has grown so much over the past forty years.

Train to train? Should containers or truck trailers be moved for train to train? In an efficient system, all train to train movements will be coupling and uncoupling strings of freight cars. The Cargosprinter is the ultimate for that of course ...

... and at the volume of a single CargoSprinter one could load and unload containers with a forklift. And two Cargosprinter consists could run a string of Roadrailers in between, for very flexible carload freight handling abilities. Obviously either a Modalohr or the sliding system could be part of the railcar consist between the end CargoSprinter, but first the Modalohr needs to be rolled out to its major intermodal transfer gateways before it starts to make sense to extend it to smaller railheads.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:07:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The beauty of Modalohr, in a European context, is that it allows very fast loading/unloading, and very low tech wrt stations. All you need is a quay that enables trucks to drive across the wagon beds. If long enough, loading/unloading can be done in parallel (e.g. ten trucks at a time) and it's all over in a few minutes. I saw a paper -- it must have been nearly 10 years ago -- showing how this could enable the use of the TGV network for high-speed multi-modal freight (you need distributed traction in the bogies, but that is becoming commonplace). The key being that fast loading/unloading lets you interleave freight and passenger services.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 05:06:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So its substantially slower loading than the sliding rollers system, since its only ten trucks at a time, but its also substantially lower capital cost, since the main capital investment is carried around on the railcars themselves.

It also would fit the CargoSprinter concept perfectly, since an entire Cargosprinter could be loaded at once.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 05:04:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure where ten trucks at a time comes from, I thought all cars can be loaded/unloaded at the same time?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 02:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was an example. All you need is a long enough quay. At Aiton (the France-Turin route) the quay is 550m long, enabling the simultaneous loading of 20 tractor units (in half an hour, apparently).

So far, there are only point-to-point liaisons, with no intermediate stops.

Here's some news you might not have seen : the Perpignan-Luxemburg Modalohr service is to be extended to Sweden, and into Spain :

Rail motorways to serve Spain and Sweden - Railway Gazette

22 June 2012

EUROPE: Announcing the rebranding of its 'rail motorway' business as VIIA on June 7, SNCF Geodis said that its Perpignan - Luxembourg service is to extended to Helsingborg in Sweden later this year. A southern extension into Spain is also being planned, following the successful conclusion of initial cross-border tests to Llers on June 3.

The Perpignan - Luxembourg service carried 50 000 semi-trailers and swap bodies in 2011, with the increase in maximum train lengths to 850 m providing a 33% increase in capacity on the four daily return trips.

With the Mont Cenis tunnel between France and Italy cleared to the GB1 loading gauge, VIIA's Aiton - Orbassano service is now able to accept standard semi-trailers and it is hoped to grow traffic by 40% or 'around 10 000 extra transport units a year'.

'Rail motorways are on their way to forming a real network', said SNCF Geodis Finance Director Olivier Storch. 'The recent introduction of the longest train in Europe reflects a renewal of rail and proves rail's ability to adapt to customer expectations on service, costs, reliability and CO2 emissions.'



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 07:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(oops)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 07:53:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain, but not Portugal.

As a result of EUsterity, Portugal has cancelled the project to build high speed rail from Lisbon to the Spanish border, which has provided Spain with the excuse to do the same, so no Lisbon-Madrid high speed rail link.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 08:44:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a result of EUsterity, Portugal has cancelled the project to build high speed rail from Lisbon to the Spanish border

The official excuse though was some untowardness in the PPP tendering process, and the excuse for not re-launching the tender included the claim that the priority is a normal-gauge freight link to the Spanish network.

provided Spain with the excuse to do the same

Do you have a source? Last I heard was Spain considering to sue Portugal for not respecting an international agreement, and Brussels intervening to negotiate a compromise solution. Some parts of the line on the Spanish side are almost completed (albeit just the parts furthest from Madrid).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 10:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest I know is from March.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 10:40:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I'm not mistaken that article doesn't mention the Spanish reaction. At any rate, the most recent news on the Spanish section of the line is this:

Adif finaliza las obras de plataforma en el tramo Mérida-Badajoz - ADIF

...Las obras de la línea de alta velocidad a su paso por Extremadura se dividen en 20 subtramos, de los que 10 se encuentran en fase de obras: Talayuela-Arroyo de Santa María, Navalmoral de la Mata-Casatejada, Grimaldo-Casas de Millán, Casas de Millán-Cañaveral, Cañaveral-Embalse de Alcántara, Embalse de Alcántara-Garrovillas, Garrovillas-Casar de Cáceres, Casar de Cáceres-Cáceres, Cáceres-Aldea del Cano y Aldea del Cano-Mérida. La longitud total de estos subtramos, incluyendo los dos ya finalizados, asciende a 136 km.

Which, if I decoded it right, says that earthworks are complete on the Mérida-Badajoz section, and on the entire part of the line in Extramadura province, work is on-going on ten more of the 20 sections, for a combined 136 km. Cancelling the line in Spain would be more 'serious' than the Portuguese cancellation because work on these in-construction sections would have to stop and contractors be left unpaid. I suspect austerity willcontinue to kick in here via the continued delay of the tendering of the construction of the rest of the sections (and of the tracks).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 12:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the quay is 550m long, enabling the simultaneous loading of 20 tractor units

Checking on the figures, 550 m corresponds to 14 wagons, which are twin articulateds, so the range seems to be from 18 complete semi-trailer truck units (with 18 half-cars carrying the semi-trailers and 9 the road trucks) to 28 unaccompanied semi-trailers.

in half an hour

That's the unload-plus-reload time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 18th, 2012 at 10:07:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, its the one with the swinging piggyback railcars that let the trucks drive over. Not quite as flexible as the sliding system, which allows the truck to drop off the load and leaves, to be loaded when the train arrives, but a lot more parallel movement than a big container crane.

Still, its one facility in the UK for loading / unloading entire trains of piggyback freight, rather than the kind of system where you could have hundreds of railheads distributed across the UK.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Modalohr promo video:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:04:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's what I meant by conventional ~ once its all loaded and is running down the tracks, its just ordinary piggyback trailers, with all the loading gauge issues that implies. The loading gauge of a Roadrailer with the same dimensions road trailer will be both narrower and shorter.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 04:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So did it get built?
by njh on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 11:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean the third terminal in Perpignan? Yes, in service since 2007, with the other end in another new terminal in Bettenbourg in Luxembourg. Recent news:

Rail motorways to serve Spain and Sweden - Railway Gazette

EUROPE: Announcing the rebranding of its 'rail motorway' business as VIIA on June 7, SNCF Geodis said that its Perpignan - Luxembourg service is to extended to Helsingborg in Sweden later this year. A southern extension into Spain is also being planned, following the successful conclusion of initial cross-border tests to Llers on June 3.

The Perpignan - Luxembourg service carried 50 000 semi-trailers and swap bodies in 2011, with the increase in maximum train lengths to 850 m providing a 33% increase in capacity on the four daily return trips.

I don't want to quote the entire article, so I paraphase another part related to something discussed upthread, loading gauges: they mention the modification of the tunnel at the France/Italy border for the extended GB1 profile.

Further routes are planned:

  • from Irún next to the French border on Spain's Atlantic coast to Paris and Lille (this one would be extended across the Chunnel), which is on the agenda since 2009 but its start was delayed from 2011 to 2014 (they need to work on eight tunnels along the route); however,
  • it's this month's news that SNCF wants to run from the Ruhr Area in Germany to the Swiss/Italian border by 2015 (which would be the first line completely outside France).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 12:27:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They haven't even updated the network map on the official site with the Germany-Switzerland-Italy route plans:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 12:35:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
njh:
Isn't there a tunnel connecting to the rest of europe?
*

What do you mean, "the rest of Europe"? There is a trans-atlantic tunnel from Dover to Calais.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 04:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, we have entered the era in which Continental Europe will no longer be cut off from the UK by Fog in the Channel.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 05:00:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the rails are terrible, too. Check the rail maps of Romania and Bulgaria: Bulgaria's electrified network is currently isolated, and all its border connections are single-track. There is improvement: both countries are upgrading mayor sections of the transit-relevant mainlines, Bulgaria will at last get an electrified connection (via Serbia) and a second link with Romania across the Danube (Vidin-Calafat). However, I fear there will be a through highway before there will be a through state-of-the-art railway...

Not to mention the effects of underfunded state railways and the EU push for "liberalisation". In the past year, Bulgaria was de-facto blackmailed by the Commission to privatise the freight branch of the national railways.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 02:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I might get a look at the Salzburg end of the line next week : I'll be over that way, with Munich and Berchtesgaden also on the programme.

Elder Daughter will be gaining some valuable experience of Europe's long-distance passenger network this summer, with a 10-days-out-of-20 Eurail pass. Starting from the Netherlands, then Munich (to join us), Sweden, back to the Netherlands, then Geneva (since her pass doesn't work in France).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 11:44:21 AM EST
Wow, should be a great journey!

If your Salzburg area trip will be a holiday, you could also visit the Chiemsee lake (between Munich and Salzburg) with its island castles, accessible by ship from Prien, where rail station and port are connected by a heritage steam tramway.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 at 12:51:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My trip is by van, which we sleep in. Thanks for the tip about Chiemsee, it will be added to the program! Looks like a good prospect for a day trip with my nephew in Munich.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jul 17th, 2012 at 05:09:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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