Report published: Guidance on limits of freight train trailing length as governed by tractive effort (T1302)

20 February 2024

Aether contributed to a RSSB project led by Railfreight Consulting to develop a new methodology for calculating maximum trailing loads for freight trains. Current maximum loads for a locomotive’s tractive effort are contained in the industry’s Freight Train Loads Book. The last major update to this document was in the late 1990s and often imposes conservative limits that were calculated with limited data. This means that freight trains might not always be loaded to their potential, especially when using newer, more powerful locomotives.

This research project developed an updated methodology for calculating maximum loads, using sophisticated modelling that calculates the forces acting on a train over 10 m sections along the route, taking account of track gradient, linespeed, loading, and the individual characteristics of locomotive and wagons. The work was overseen by an industry project steering group representing infrastructure and train operators. The more scientific and quantitative methods developed will allow for easier and more frequent updates of the Loads Book in the future, which are essential for it to reflect the on-going changes and improvements in assets. With an updated Loads Book, freight operators will be able to use locomotives to their full capabilities, increasing the efficiency, reliability, and sustainability of each freight journey.

The report is available from the RSSB website, Project Reference: T1302.

 

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