Image of WH David and VTG sign the deal, from left: Jonathan Hamer, Finance Director of WH Davis; Stewart Greenwood, MD of WH Davis; Nigel Day, Engineering Director, VTG Rail UK and Rob Brook, Head of VTG Rail UK at VTG's offices in Birmingham.

VTG chose WH Davis for Ecofret2

VTG Rail UK has signed an agreement with WH Davis to build 84 of their new trademarked Ecofret2 triple container wagons. The East Midlands manufacturer was selected ahead of a stellar field of other European bidders.

British manufacturer WH Davis, who featured recently in, have been vindicated in their attention to innovation and quality, by winning a contract to build 84 of the new-spec version of the intermodal pack horse. Pictured signing the deal in Birmingham in late January are, from the left, Jonathan Hamer, Finance Director of WH Davis; Stewart Greenwood, MD of WH Davis; Nigel Day, Engineering Director, VTG Rail UK and Rob Brook, Head of VTG Rail UK.

Maritime demand

Ian Shaw, sales and marketing director for VTG Rail, said that as the rail freight option is becoming increasingly attractive for shippers and big retailers, as they’re looking to move more goods inland from deep sea ports as fast and as effectively as possible. “As the size of container vessels increases, the need at the port to get boxes away and moving has never been more pressing”.

Technical interpretative drawing of Ecofret2 wagon
Technical interpretative drawing of Ecofret2 platform from VTG video

Ecofret2, has been specified with that market primarily in mind. A new bogie is designed to reduce demands on the permanent way, and enhance the overall dynamic ride. More importantly, the flexibility of the wagon sets allow for much better utilisation of train load space.

Most efficient

“In order to handle the larger 40ft containers in the most efficient way, we have needed to continually innovate”, said Shaw, who added that the new model builds on the efficiency benefits provided by the original Ecofret, first introduced in 2012. He said that in common with all new VTG wagons, they would carry their proprietary ‘Connect’ telematics system, allowing users to subscribe to a range of GPS-based tracking and monitoring services.

The new wagons will be built by WH Davis, at their Shirebrook site in the East Midlands. Les Bryant, group business development director, was extremely pleased and proud on behalf of the company, which has a strong tradition of rail freight wagon building. “We look forward to working with our valued customer VTG Rail on this project”, he said.

Evolution is revolution

Greater flexibility to better meet the demands of the market has been the driver behind the new design. ”The wagons avoid the need for empty spaces which are so often seen on trains made up of 60ft deck length container flats carrying a single 40ft box”, said Nigel Day, engineering director at VTG Rail UK. “These empty spaces are wasteful and create considerable turbulence when running at 75mph, which increases drag and fuel consumption”.

The new design wagons are to be fitted with a brand new bogie incorporating rubber suspension components and hydraulic damping which will meet the requirements of emerging rail regulations. “It will also feature additional container mounting points on the outer platforms meaning that either two 20ft or one 40ft box can be carried on all platforms giving maximum loading flexibility to customers”, added Day.

VTG AG HQ in Hamburg
VTG worldwide HQ in Hamburg

VTG operates worldwide from corporate headquarters in Hamburg and in the UK from their base in Birmingham. Ecofret has been running with UK freight operators since 2012. VTG say that the design will be “a revolutionary addition” to their fleet which extends to over 92,000 wagons worldwide – 4,500 of them on the UK network. Soon to be 4,584, apparently.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.