HS1 freight: first test run completed

At 01:00 this morning, a DB Schenker Class 92 freight locomotive quietly travelled up High Speed 1 (HS1) between Folkestone and Singlewell, returning at 02:15 .

This one small step represents a giant leap for cross-Channel rail freight, enabling for the first time the movement of full-size continental rail wagons and intermodal units between London and mainland Europe .

Intermodality has supported DB Schenker and logistics operator TDG as a partner in the EXCITE (European X-Channel Intermodal Transport Enhancement) project, which has been supported by the European Commission’s Marco Polo programme.

The aims of the project have been to test the capabilities of high-speed railways such as HS1 to carry freight as well as passenger traffic. Working with HS1, DB Schenker has now successfully upgraded the on-board signalling systems on the Class 92 freight locomotives to enable operation on HS1 as well as Network Rail and Eurotunnel.

Intermodality co-ordinated the initial successful Marco Polo grant application and has provided support to the project partners over the last 5 years, as well as assisting HS1 develop its own access strategy for rail freight traffic.

The EXCITE project will conclude later this year with the start of commercial rail freight services operating on HS1 at night.

Intermodality in China

Nick Gallop, Managing Director for Intermodality spoke at the Shanghai Expo conference “Towards Sustainable Cities” in July, organised by the Sino-UK Institute for Sustainability with the Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainability, EcoNetworks and the London Development Agency.

Nick presented the challenge to developing sustainable transport and logistics networks to serve major cities, using lessons learnt in Europe to help other emerging regions achieve more efficient and low-carbon solutions to deliver goods and services into major cities and conurbations.

HS1 freight: progress update

Intermodality is working alongside DB Schenker Rail (UK) and TDG on the ‘EXCITE’ project (European X-Channel Intermodal Transport Enhancement), a partnership to pilot freight services along High Speed 1 (HS1), the first main line in the UK to be built to mainlane European standards.

HS1 Ltd and DB Schenker Rail (UK) Ltd have signed a Heads of Term to cooperate in the development of modifications to DB Schenker’s Class 92 locomotives, to enable the onboard TVM signalling system to operate on HS1.

HS1 Ltd will support the EXCITE project, which has secured Marco Polo funding from the European Commission. HS1 will lead the software development to the TVM parameters. This will ensure that the modifications required to Class 92 locos are available to all owners of Class 92’s who wish to operate over the HS1 infrastructure.

HS1 and DB Schenker have also agreed outline terms for a Track Access Agreement in anticipation of the commencement of freight services on HS1 infrastructure in early 2010.

Paul Chapman, Managing Director of HS1, said that “This agreement is a major milestone as it cleared the way for freight operation on HS1 infrastructure by DB Schenker and indeed by any other interested parties able to utilise the Class 92 fleet.”

Graham Smith, Planning Director for DB Schenker, said “This initiative will allow full-size European rail freight vehicles to move between the UK and the rest of Europe . It will open up a massive market for cross Channel rail freight, delivering major environmental and economic benefits”

Services are anticipated to start in 2010, carrying larger mainland European railway wagons and intermodal units to terminals in East London.

Intermodality cited in Hansard

Today the House of Lords debated the passage of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (Supplementary Provisions) Bill, during which reference was made by Lord Bassam, speaking on behalf of the Government, to a current Intermodality assignment related to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, now known as High Speed 1 (HS1):

“HS1 has commissioned Intermodality to undertake a specific study to help identify commercially sustainable charges for freight service on the line to help identify what access charges might be affordable for freight services on HS1. Intermodality is analysing the freight market, particular segments within it and international comparators for pricing. We and HS1 expect the report to be completed by May. It will then feed into the subsequent consultation on access charges later this year. We recognise the importance of this issue. For that reason, we strongly support that study…”

SIRFT Sheffield: railhead goes live

Today saw developers Helioslough unveil SIRFT, the new rail-linked distribution complex built on part of the former Tinsley Marshalling Yard near Sheffield . Intermodality was on site to assist with the festivities.

A little over 42 years ago, the infamous Dr Beeching opened the state-of-the-art marshalling yard at Tinsley, which featured an early form of computer control, able to process several thousand wagons a day.

Sadly, the new yard came too late to halt the decline of rail freight during the next 30 years. By the time Helioslough and rail operator EWS commenced discussions about SIRFT, Tinsley Yard had become largely derelict.

SIRFT now offers an opportunity to reverse this decline, with two modern rail-linked warehouses now developed on part of the former yard, offering some 870,000 square feet (80,825 square metres) of distribution space.

Launching the new development, EWS locomotive 66196 broke the banner to mark the departure of the first freight train from the site.

Portsmouth: railhead completed

Today witnessed the return of rail freight to Portsmouth with the opening of a new rail freight terminal, designed and developed by Intermodality.

Thirty years to the day, the last freight train left the Naval Dockyard in 1977, ending a 130-year old relationship stretching back to the opening of the Chichester to Portsmouth Branch Railway in 1847.

At one point, Portsmouth Dockyard had nearly 25 miles of track, with thousands of tonnes of coal, steel, equipment and stores moved by rail every year. The Dockyard’s rail system was connected to the main line by a spur from Harbour Station (removed following bomb damage in World War II) and from the high-level platform at Portsmouth & Southsea Station.

In 1957 the dockyard was still receiving 8,500 wagonloads of traffic a year (over 30 a day), but by 1967 this had fallen by a third to 6,000 a year, and by the time the last train left in November 1977, the Dockyard had only received 700 wagons since January that year.

Ironically, one of the last loads to leave demonstrated the value of rail transport to the Dockyard, with the despatch of four 30 metre (100 ft) long pontoons for Portland Naval Base, something that would have been difficult to achieve with road transport.

Following almost a decade of challenges, Portsmouth Commercial Port , with IMPACTE funding organised by SEEDA and with support from Network Rail, finally achieved its ambition to see a rail freight interchange created on site.