Tuesday 27 May 2014
Railway Freight / Research

2nd General Assembly of the EC funded rail freight research project SPECTRUM 20 & 21 May 2014 – University of Newcastle – UK

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Last week marked the 2nd General Assembly of the SPECTRUM project which is focussed on the currently unexploited market of low-density high value (LDHV) goods. Besides the GA, there were also meetings of WP3 and 4 as well as of the Advisory Board. The UIC (represented by Dennis Schut) is involved as leader of the WP on dissemination as well as chairing the Advisory Board.

Over the intervening period since the previous General Assembly, held in Istanbul in July 2013, the project team has principally developed three areas; conceptual design, detailed design and economic assessment.

During the first day of the meeting the progress of the work in Work Packages 3 (High performance freight trains) and 4 (Synthesis and Evaluation) were discussed in workshop form and a summary of the workshop and progress was presented to the GA on the second day, along with the planning of the work on WP5 (Freight Train Technology Demonstration)

Building on the foundations set in previous years through the market analysis and capacity management reports the project team set about developing a SPECTRUM logistics and vehicle concept that would

  • Behave like a passenger train in terms of installed power, speed, acceleration, braking and momentum: allowing full scheduling on inter-urban and suburban train networks
  • Have a standardised and universal power supply system for the delivery of power to temperature controlled containers (reefers) in a controlled fashion
  • Operate over a wide range of national domestic and international lines and routes with little constraint.
  • Be of modular design addressing inter-modal and logistics (palletised goods) markets.
  • Remain unbroken acting in fixed formation to capitalise on the performance characteristics of the vehicle

A large part of the concept generation process was conducted during a workshop held at the home of Faiveley Transport in Tours, France.

The original project description was reworked into something from which ideas were generated:

Since the SPECTRUM project focuses specifically on the currently unexploited market of low-density high value (LDHV) goods, broadly speaking the SPECTRUM concepts are governed by type of goods and loading unit to be transported. The SPECTRUM concepts are therefore designed to incorporate, swap bodies, ISO containers including reefers for refrigerated cargo, palletised cargo and semi-trailers or combination thereof.

The concepts also explored a number of transhipment techniques including I.Log’s Metrocargo, Innovatrain’s Container Mover 3000 and Kockum’s MegaSwing solution. The developed conceptual solutions were assessed using life cycle costing and SWOT methodologies.

The progress of WP3

The aim of WP3 is to develop a detailed design concept for high-performance freight train that meets the operational specifications identified in WP1 and WP2. Of the seven elements identified in WP2 four related directly to the four tasks in WP3. These are:

  1. Light-weighting of the wagon body
  2. Running gear and Vehicle dynamics
  3. Electrical systems and couplings
  4. Freight Handling

Three additional design elements which were critical to fulfilling the logistics and market requirements (WP1 and WP2) were traction, condition monitoring (of goods and vehicle) and Tracking & Tracing. These tasks will be fulfilled through purchasing of the units off the shelf based the specification in D2.5 as refined by WP3 Task Leaders.

After considering several design configurations, it was decided that the 104’ SPECTRUM Train would consist of 4 six-axle two wagon sets. The train is capable of carrying 20’, 30’, 40’ and 45’ intermodal containers and swap bodies. Although designed primarily for Container-Mover horizontal transhipment, the wagon is versatile allowing for conventional transhipment techniques as well as novel ones such as the Metrocargo horizontal transhipment.

Taking into account the load distribution, the axle load on the outer bogies is 17t, while the centre one is 22.5t. The technical feasibility of running this train at the design top speed of 160km/h indicated that it would run stable, within acceptable limits. Based on the centre beam design (see image shown below), the wagon would also incorporate fitting of power convertors - designed specifically to meet the SPECTRUM Train reefer power demand - to supply electricity to the reefers.

Finite Element Structural analysis and material selection of the preliminary concept design is currently underway. The materials being considered now are traditional steel, high-strength steel and composite materials. The immediate next step is an iterative engineering design process where the effect of changing parameters (such as loading and material properties) is assessed through structural analysis. The results are used to feedback to the original design to be altered (if necessary) before taking the wagon concept back for structural analysis.

After a number of simulations and tests, the following recommendations were given for the future steps in designing the wagon:

  • Eliminate the lateral beams.
  • Re-design the shape of the longitudinal beams in the area close to the central articulation which produces high stress concentration welding areas.
  • Considering replacing the I beam section with other more weight-¬‐efficient section profiles.
  • Power convertor fitted centrally for dynamic stability.
  • Move the beams apart to accommodate central location of power convertor.
  • Based on the weight distribution recommendation, the 500 kg power convertor should be located as close to the outer bogies as possible.
  • Ensure that the adaptor fits properly

Requirements for the bogie selection have been drawn up as well as a short list of 5 categories. Initial simulations have been carried out and show that specification can be met with trailing arm suspension. Performance assessment has been carried out against UK and EU standards. A generic trailing arm bogie model set up and currently being optimised and the UIC standard secondary suspension has now been proposed.

Further aspects were discussed on electrical systems and coupling, the architecture of the power convertor as well as freight handling. For freight handling, a conceptual design has been developed for city logistics. This applies micro swap bodies which can be transferred using horizontal transhipment techniques. A light truck with a specialised turntable transports the swap bodies to the final city destination. In the coming months leading up to the end of WP3 on 31 July 2014, work related to all WP3 tasks will be completed and four deliverables to be submitted end of July/beginning of August. There will be a final WP3 workshop in Naples in July.

The progress of WP4

The aim of Work Package 4 is to validate and evaluate ex-ante the solutions designed for their effectiveness for shifting cargo of unexploited markets to rail, as well as for their contribution to environmental sustainability and in their social aspects. The reports on the Financial Analysis and Economic Analysis have been completed.

The key messages of the financial analysis can be summarised as follows:

  • SPECTRUM service can boost the attractiveness of rail freight, increasing the modal split for rail, if the decrease in transit time is ensured, even if accompanied by a cost increase of 20-30% compared to regular rail services;
  • The modal shift expected with the introduction of SPECTRUM service is higher in geographical or service areas where the modal split for rail is higher (Service Area 2 - Scandinavia).
  • As expected, this result confirms that in some links, and for some supply chains, the “premium value” SPECTRUM service turns out to be less attractive than regular rail
  • When standard tariffs are assumed, the financial feasibility of the SPECTRUM service is not ensured in any of the selected service areas.
  • If estimated operational costs are kept, the necessary tariffs to ensure financial profitability is double than the standard;
  • When applying the premium tariff (+30%) that clients are assumed to pay for SPECTRUM service, the financial feasibility is ensured in Service area 2 when cost are reduced by more than one third (37%).
    The Advisory Board concluded among other things that costs savings would be beneficial for the future use of this service aimed at low density high value freight shipments.

The planning of WP5

The work of WP 5 – Freight train technology demonstrations – is yet to start. Ideas and planning have been discussed. Possible featured demonstrators will be:

  • Power Converter for Reefer (Faiveley)
  • Running gear (Newrail)
  • Lightweight vehicle structure (Kockums)
  • Freight Handling system (Ilog)
    A validation of the Power Converter (PC) tests is planned for a day in June 2015 in Saint-Pierre des Corps (France) as a show to the European Commission and the Spectrum Advisory Board and interested UIC members, with the following ingredients:
  • PC connected to 2x20 ft reefers
  • Running test for 3 hours with monitoring of electrical characteristics of the PC and the performances of the reefer in terms of temperature
  • Explanation about the redundancy of the functioning of the couple PC-Reefer
  • Demonstration of the tracing & tracking
  • Possible other demos
    A date and invitation for this event will soon be made available to the UIC members.

Recent SPECTRUM Features & Publications: Railway Strategies - Railway Gazette International - RRUKA – for further information on the project, see www.spectrumrail.info

Remarks and questions are always welcome! Please contact Dennis Schut, UIC Research manager: schut@uic.org

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Conceptual Design Methodology