Piggyback rail freight wagons designed to take road trailers have been given the go-ahead from Britain’s rail safety authorities, with first full trials expected to start in September this year.
The wagons will be built at the new Thrall Europa plant in York, on the site of the ABB plant which closed in May 1995 with the loss of 750 jobs.
UK freight operator EWS has ordered 2,500 conventional freight wagons from the new plant over a five year period, and has yet to confirm if it will buy Eurospine piggyback rolling stock.
Capacity at the York plant will be well over 500 units a year, leaving Chicago-based Thrall room to manufacture trailers for other customers.
Krone, a German trailer builder, and two British firms – Cartwright in Manchester and Clayton in West Yorkshire – are building the first trailers for the Eurospine system, which are being designed to withstand the stresses of being loaded on to Eurospine rail wagons.
Design scrutiny and testing is due for completion by mid-August, with engineers at the Railway Technical Centre describing progress as slow.
`We did not anticipate the time it would take for some trailer builders to learn how to adapt to the railroad context,’ said Charles Magolski, Thrall international markets vice-president.
Glasgow-based Babcock worked with Thrall to build the two prototype Eurospine wagons – the only two in existence. Hopes of following this up with a manufacturing contract were dashed with Thrall’s decision to open its plant in York.