UK partners convert coal hoppers for aggregates
Britain’s biggest rail freight operator, DB Cargo UK, is utilising the growing demand for rail movement of aggregates by converting more than 100 coal hoppers into new state-of-the-art aggregate hopper wagons. The conversion programme is being carried out in a partnership with Axiom Rail and WH Davis and, says DB, demonstrates its commitment future growth in the sector.
It involves removing one of the coal hopper bays, reducing the length of the wagon by 20 per cent of its original size from 17.7 metres to 14.3 metres. But despite the reduction in length, the gross weight each wagon can carry remains the same at 101.6 tonnes. This allows more wagons to be transported per train, increasing the potential payload tonnage of the train by 447 tonnes for the same length (based on a 22 HTA wagon set and a 27 HRA wagon set).
The work is being carried out at the Axiom Rail site in Stoke and the WH Davis site in Mansfield, and follows the conclusion of a successful five month trial of a prototype wagon. This ran in full service carrying aggregates from Peak Forest to Salford Hope Street. DB Cargo UK has committed to re-engineering an initial 110 wagons and plans to have them in full service by the end of next year.
Jonathan Lowden, Head of Rolling Stock at DB Cargo UK, said: “As we all know, the demand for coal transportation has decreased significantly in recent years and DB Cargo UK had a large fleet of HTA coal hopper wagons. To find a future use for our assets in an alternative market, our production team at DB Cargo UK worked in collaboration with Axiom Rail and WH Davis to find a solution to convert these wagons to class leading aggregate hoppers. We are extremely proud of the outcome, the new HRA aggregate wagons will be used up and down the country to transport aggregates on behalf of our customers. They provide an efficient solution too by increasing the tonnage of product moved per train.”