UK operators will be able to safely haul more goods wagons per train

Marketa Horpeniakova, Published on 18/11/2022
UK operators will be able to safely haul more goods wagons per train
@OtoZapletal on Pixabay

Increasing the length of the trains will bring both significant financial efficiency and help to achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions.


A research project by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has concluded that freight train operators in Great Britain can safely haul more freight wagons per train than current practices allow.

The research, based on real-world case studies, enabled existing couplers connecting freight wagons to safely connect more loads. It has been found that 34.5 tonne coupler rating can increase 16% to 40 tonnes, and some 56 tonne rated couplers increase 13% to a new 63 tonne rating. The main advantage is that it is possible to increase the ratings even on currently used wagons without the need for upgrading or detailed engineering assessment.

As a result of the research, more than 12,000 rail freight wagons, over 50% of Britain’s fleet, will receive an increase in traction rating (the amount of weight it can safely haul).

“It's good to see the results of our research directly helping freight train operators. By enabling longer trains, more goods and materials can be hauled per journey. This will have a hugely positive impact on emissions and financial efficiency,” said Aaron Barrett, RSSB’s Lead Research Analyst.

Specifically, case studies have shown that the 235-miles journey (each way), increasing the number of wagons from 19 to 23, has resulted in an environmental saving of 2.1 tonnes of CO2, as well as considerable amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions. The projected annual financial savings were £364k. The rail industry is now implementing improved freight coupler load ratings into practice and identifying routes that would be suitable for longer freight services.

“Rail Freight Group members have been working hard to improve the efficiency and performance of their rail freight services, and look forward to moving more goods and materials on the new capacity this research has identified,” commented Maggie Simpson, Director General of the Rail Freight Group.

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