Piggybacks go to market

Green light on safety means that trials can begin for road-rail freight trailers

The Government’s campaign for integrated transport networks got a boost this week with another step forward in the development of ‘piggyback’ freight trailers.

Safety engineers at the Rail Technical Centre in Derby this week gave the all-clear for the first of three types of lorry trailers designed to be either driven on the road or carried by rail. ‘This is good news for this project. It means that trials can now go ahead,’ said Neil Charles, registration engineer at the RTC.

These will be carried out by English Welsh and Scottish Railways, the US-owned rail freight operator.

The first trailer to get clearance is a Cartwright truck built for Royal Mail. It has been passed for use on the new Eurospine wagons, designed by US company Thrall Car. It is likely to be built at the new Thrall wagon plant at York.

It can be carried on the pan-European UIC Pocket wagons, a similar system already operating on the European rail network. No standards have yet been drawn up to allow either wagon type to travel through the Channel Tunnel. Adapting the road trailers to suit the Eurospine wagon has meant repositioning brake components and proving the structure and hitch area components to withstand a shunt at twice the trailer’s laden 38 tonne weight.

A Krone truck being developed for JG Russell and Thrall Car, and a Clayton tank trailer, are likely to get certification within weeks.