Theme III   New freight transport by rail

Contents of this page:

1. An explanation of the terms used for goods trains

  1.  The block train, also block train
  2.  The single wagon train

2. Description of the ICE freight wagon and the small freight stations

3. A description of the status quo in the freight station or the train formation facility

4. A look into the future

5. New ideas with today's techniques

6. Small freight stations (as also on the page "New commercial areas")

7. Complementary developments

1 An explanation of the terms for goods trains

(This may only apply in Germany)

1.1 The block train, also block train

Wikipedia writes

is a goods train that runs from the origin to the destination station as a unit (same wagon types, same consignor and consignee), possibly with organisational or operational intermediate stops. This makes block train transport faster and more cost-effective than single-wagon transport. The railway can thus express its system advantages in comparison to lorries and partly also to inland waterway vessels.

Block train transport is not considered here, as no major improvements are possible here.


1.2 Single wagon transport

Wikipedia writes about this:

This type of transport is named after the fact that single wagonload goods trains are made up of freight wagons from different consignors and consignees. The transport from one consignor to one consignee therefore requires that the individual wagons or groups of wagons are transported with the help of different trains and are regrouped between them with the help of shunting manoeuvres, especially in marshalling yards (train formation facilities). Freight wagons are picked up in sidings, freight yards or loading sidings. If loads of several consignors or consignees are transported within one wagon, single wagon traffic is part of general cargo traffic.

Single wagon operation is considered because there are many possibilities for improvement here.


2. Description of the ICE freight wagon and the small freight stations

Innovative ICE freight wagons specially designed for efficient truck transport are being developed. These wagons will be equipped with a Digital Automatic Coupling, a maximum speed of 250 km/h and special gates on the front sides for truck passages. The aim is to speed up freight transport by rail, make it more environmentally friendly and promote the connection of commercial areas to rail.

Technological aspects
The planned ICE freight wagons are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. This includes a Digital Automatic Coupling for efficient coupling, a dedicated drive for short distances of about 50 km and special gates at the ends for truck passages. In addition, autonomous trucks can be used to unload and load the trailers in the wagon. This enables a quick exchange of wagons and significantly reduces waiting times.

Efficient freight stations
The use of new small freight stations with double-track transfer cars plays a decisive role in this concept. Here, the freight wagons are pushed out in parallel while a new wagon is pushed in. This exchange process can take place within a maximum of 15 minutes. The freight stations could also be built above passenger stations, which leads to an optimal use of the available space and to better connections to commercial areas.

Environmental benefits and efficiency
The integration of these innovative ICE freight wagons with rail transport helps to reduce truck traffic, which in turn leads to less road traffic, fewer accidents and less tyre wear. This minimises environmental impact and promotes a sustainable transport solution. The shorter transport times via rail compared to road increase efficiency and profitability for companies.

The planned development of these ICE freight wagons and the implementation of the innovative freight stations are decisive steps to modernise and accelerate freight transport by rail. This concept shows the potential to make freight transport more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly.  This sends a clear signal for the promotion of sustainable and contemporary logistics.

3. Description of the situation in the freight yard or the train formation facility

This video shows how the wagons are used and worked on today in single wagon transport.

What is special are the employees who uncouple and uncouple the wagons, as well as the time needed for this work. The physical strain is enormous.


It's a bit frightening when you look at the techniques used in the logistics sector. 

A crucial point here is that some of the wagons remain in the marshalling yard for about 8 hours from arrival to departure.

4. The view into the future is already there

This video from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) shows that others have already found this future. Here, too, there is the intelligent freight wagon and fast train formation.  

5. New ideas with today's techniques

The aim is to

1. to bring the above-mentioned waiting times of the freight wagons from 8 hours to less than 30 minutes, and

2. to relieve the employees from the physical hard work.


Contents of the video for single wagon operation:

1. prerequisites:  Coupling, transfer cars, transfer car technology, new freight cars,

2. freight station in single wagon operation,

3. solution 1 description and simulation,

4. solution 2 description and simulation,

5. conclusion and possibilities,

6. journey time comparison,

7. possibilities for new transport routes,

8. a siding for an industrial estate,  

6. Small freight stations (as also on the page "new industrial estates")

The new freight stations or train formation facilities described cannot be built everywhere and the lorry should not have to travel so far, max. 50 km to the next freight station. Therefore, small simple freight stations are necessary. Building these small freight stations over the existing tracks or over a small passenger station saves a lot of space and facilitates lorry traffic by rail. In this way, sidings for truck traffic could also be made possible in rural areas.


Plus a few videos of my own:

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

This video uses a LEGO model to show a small passenger station that has been converted into a small freight station. The freight track is led over the station. A loading and unloading station for lorries is built on top. The new digital goods wagon, see above, point 2, is pushed out of the train with a transfer table. The train rejoins and can continue its journey. Now the wagon is loaded and unloaded via the ends and can continue with the next train. This is a quick transfer point for the claim of more goods on the rail. A new improved version will follow shortly (Dec.2023).

Of course, this small freight station is expensive, but it is even more expensive if the truck has to drive the routes with personnel. It is a question of logistics and economic calculation.

7. Complementary developments

This project from China, which was created by German companies, shows that we as humans can create almost limitless technologies.

The largest lift in the world.

Here is the cut-out from the aircraft carrier:
USS Gerald R. Ford:
The Ford-class is the first new aircraft carrier design in 40 years. Instead of cables, the new lifts will be "controlled by electromagnetic, linear synchronous motors", the Navy explained in a press release. This, it said, will allow for faster and therefore more extensive transport of ammunition - up to 24,000 pounds (just under 11,000 kilograms) at 140 feet per minute (just under three kilometres per hour)

If you find any errors, we are grateful for any advice.