2012-01-12 Session 42: More efficient freight transportation through longer trains
Transportation capacity as well as efficiency can be raised significantly by operating longer trains, even with existing technology.
For freight train operators a large portion of the cost is fixed per train or increases less than proportionally to increase train size. Power ratings per locomotive are higher for the modern locomotives that are procured now. Several dominating commodities, including intermodal and forest products, are comparatively light per meter train length, necessitating train lengths of more than 800 m to fully utilize the locomotive performance, even for a single locomotive. Longer freight trains than the 630 m cleared today can therefore raise the transportation capacity of the railway system as well as the train operators’ revenues. Longer trains can also give better coordination with connecting links, across Öresund as well as to Germany.
Practical limitations consist of locomotive performance, gradients and electrical power feeding, braking performance and length of terminals, yards and sidings. Several important freight yards, such as Malmö and Hallsberg, already have tracks up to 877 m and 890 m long. In the near term longer freight trains can be introduced and train conflicts minimized at night on double track lines in southern Sweden and by directional operation of parallel lines in northern Sweden, even before sidings are extended.
Needs, propulsion performance, braking performance and infrastructure limitations are described.