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Author Topic: Redundant HSTs to be used as Freight Trains  (Read 734 times)
SandTEngineer
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« on: March 28, 2018, 01:34:48 pm »

https://www.railmagazine.com/news/network/rail-industry-urged-to-back-hsts-for-freight-plan

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From Rail Magazine

EXCLUSIVE: Rail industry urged to back HSTs for freight plan

The freight market could be “cracked wide open” if off-lease High Speed Trains are used to carry express freight, claims Intermodality UK Managing Director Nick Gallop.

Speaking exclusively to RAIL, Gallop said a plan to use ex-passenger HSTs and Mk 3 coaches to carry parcels could “wipe the floor” with the road competition.

RAIL first revealed that GB Railfreight was interested in using redundant HSTs to meet customers’ same-day delivery demand last year (RAIL 820).

These plans had to be postponed owing to late-running electrification works, meaning that the stock couldn’t become available as soon as was originally hoped. However, Gallop, who also works as IntercityFreight’s Development Director, said that in the past year he has been lobbying to ensure spare HSTs won’t all be going for scrap without warning.

“We were hopeful we would have seen something by now, but rail projects sometimes take way too long to bring on-stream for all sorts of reasons,” he told RAIL.

“At the moment, the leasing companies and train operating companies [TOCs] are working out how many of the HST sets they want to keep in passenger use. What we’re looking to do with things like HSTs is to be there as the goalkeeper of last resort - if we see any signs that they’re going to be scrapped, we will try and gain interest from the industry and say ‘would you be interested in a 125mph high-speed diesel delivery vehicle? If you’re interested, apply to that person before they get turned into razor blades’.”

Gallop added there is also potential for the HSTs to continue to carry passengers, albeit at a cut price to a traditional overnight service. This could help the railways appeal to a new demographic, using the Adaptable Carriage technology (RAIL 847).
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ChrisB
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2018, 01:40:03 pm »

ooh, Red Star reborn....
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Timmer
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2018, 02:34:46 pm »

Great, really like the idea and good no HST should go to the scrap heap until all avenues of use are looked at. They are still great trains having been so well built.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2018, 02:40:42 pm »

How many aren't actually hired by Scotrail & GWR & XC though? Are there enough to run a sensible service?
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bradshaw
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2018, 03:32:30 pm »

RAIL website has this list:

https://www.railmagazine.com/news/fleet/updated-hst-power-cars-due-off-lease
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eXPassenger
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2018, 04:18:16 pm »

How many parcels will fit in a 7+2 HST compared with the number of parcels per day between any 2 locations on the network?  Surely parcels traffic between 2 points is either higher volume but not time sensitive, or lower volume and time sensitive.

There might be enough traffic for 1 train a day between London and 'the North', but would this justify the infrastructure.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2018, 04:33:38 pm »

If this had been reported in a printed magazine, I might have taken a look at the date on the front cover ...

Intermodality had a press release last year about double height stack container trains.
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stuving
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2018, 04:53:40 pm »

If this had been reported in a printed magazine, I might have taken a look at the date on the front cover ...

I was wondering that - but Intermodaility and the Mr Gallop mentioned in the article are real enough.

I'm sure all the big courier/carrier companies use a network of depots (or hubs) with local delivery and collection, and trunk links between them that operate largely at night. Rail could only ever do that hub-hub link part, so to make sense of it you'd still need all the depots and local operations (staff, vehicles, etc.). But I don't imagine rail offers any big advantage there - as has been already pointed out, its forte is to replace multiple big trucks between the same points. If you don't need that, or if it wouldn't save much money, or if there's a threat the necessary railway line(s) might by closed for work just when you want them, you'd say no.

After all, that's pretty much what Red Star did do, but they failed to make money. Even Royal Mail who started with their hubs in the right places for it found it didn't work (in part because they wanted to move to out-of-town sites). I see no mention of any new factor, like new technology, or anything to be mage from the big increase to (e-)mail order deliveries that would make the difference.

But maybe there is some new concept to apply here. Now let's see, could you adapt the TPO idea so as to collect and sort packages on board and do without depots altogether ... pick-up and delivery automatically from a dense network of  small lineside units that a few collection/delivery vans can park next to ... all with rendezvous times controlled by a central system ... would that work? OK, it wouldn't, but it would be a load of fun to try it!
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onthecushions
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2018, 05:06:02 pm »


I think that there are class 325 parcel EMU's still extant, which with "flex" diesels could go anywhere. As they are from the 317-322 series, there's a lot more similar around in the next few years, albeit with seats.

To compete with modern logistics, with computer picking, road containers etc, we'd need to aim for mid-size niche markets and dust off any old BRUTE trolleys and platform ramps etc, left over.

I hope there's some scope for it, though.

OTC
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Four Track, Now!
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2018, 08:30:52 pm »

It could have a future. We have frequent reminders of how much extra traffic is on the road because of online sales. If a company such as Amazon has a rail hub next to its big national depot, HSTs could transport lots of packages to cities for the last few miles to be done by (preferably) electric vehicles. Or we could see perishables unloaded at ports and airports to get to supermarket regional depots more quickly than happens now. It's going to need a lot of thinking through, though, and any profit is likely to come from schemes to get trucks off the roads rather than the fare box.
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2018, 08:46:12 am »

Just because something didn't work in the past doesn't mean it wouldn't work - or something with similar lines wouldn't work today.  The past is a lesson, but should be viewed in the context of our time.  And our time has delivery vehicles scuttling everywhere from the local supermarket, and from more general hubs where items arrive from far and wide.  Such have largely replaced the trips of my youth into the town to do the shopping, and indeed we're seeing the likes of Maplin, Toys Were Us, BHS going, with negative reports of trading conditions from the likes of Debenhams, Mothercare and New Look. Locally, our Countrywide store that's been here (in some form) for generations is closing it doors ... and that's a story reported in dozens of communities.  People haven't stopped buying things ... they are buying things in different ways, and the things bought arrive in different ways.   A different market to Red Star days, then ... and potentially different solutions which could mean that rail once again has a place.

Comment the other day at the Transport Knowledge Hub meeting ...looking forward to urban deliveries where students and commuters on their way to or from college could pick up a couple of parcels on their way home / back to their residences, and drop them off with the final recipients on their way.

I have seen (but desperate to place where I was it - was it in the UK??) parcel lockers at stations where long(er) distance packages are delivered in bulk, and people pick up their parcel via an automated system as a part of their natural travel cycle.

Hold both of those thoughts, and ask yourself "is there a delivery model there" ... using rail for the bulk transit.  I can imagine taking even apparently unlikely stations and having parcel pickup ... and mutual benefit across other traffic at that station - boosting public versus private passenger journeys too, allowing a higher proportion of stations to be staffed to a level that's much more welcoming ...
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stuving
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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2018, 09:28:59 am »

Just because something didn't work in the past doesn't mean it wouldn't work - or something with similar lines wouldn't work today.  The past is a lesson, but should be viewed in the context of our time.  And our time has delivery vehicles scuttling everywhere from the local supermarket, and from more general hubs where items arrive from far and wide. 
...
Hold both of those thoughts, and ask yourself "is there a delivery model there" ... using rail for the bulk transit.  I can imagine taking even apparently unlikely stations and having parcel pickup ... and mutual benefit across other traffic at that station - boosting public versus private passenger journeys too, allowing a higher proportion of stations to be staffed to a level that's much more welcoming ...

That was the point of my (largely) tongue in cheek proposal. If it's the local part of the chain at both ends (though mostly the delivery) that costs most of the money and hits other limits of resources, customer time and convenience, etc. then what's the point in replacing the trunk leg? Big trucks on motorways and trunk roads overnight do not (I suspect) account for a lot of the cost, and for longer distances where time is an issue rail isn't going to be fast enough to replace the limited use of air transfers.

Trying to be a little more practical, it seems likely that a lot of customers are in cities and areas sufficiently built up that getting to them by van from a big shed on the ring road does hit some of those problem areas. Railways once had huge goods stations in cities - I suspect using more land than passenger ones - but most had closed before 60s. The remaining sidings for mail and parcels have mostly gone too, some to passenger use and some sold off. So with little or nothing of that to bring back into use for depots, you would need a solution with a very small footprint for its city operations.

As you say, it needs a new solution, and some clever thinking to find what would work in several senses (one of which is commercial) at once. Unfortunately, it's not something you could start small and grow!
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devonexpress
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2018, 07:49:00 pm »

I would be all for it, if 2 or 3 HST's can take 200 lorries off the road or even the motorway (just an example) then all the better, I think its crazy that we dropped rail as a freight opportunity to go and shove it on the road.
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