UK – Network Rail has come up with a new scheme to transfer some high speed parcel deliveries to an intermodal format by converting former passenger trains to carry goods directly into city centre stations for transfer to bicycles or electrically powered urban ‘last mile’ vehicles.
The company ran a concept trial with distribution firm Orion into Euston Station showing how it is designed to work. The company points out that trains can travel more than twice as fast as average road speeds, are cleaner than air and road transport and provide ease of loading and unloading. Daniel Fredriksson, Network Rail customer relationship executive, said:
“We’re excited to show what future uses rail has for distribution using Euston as a test site given its important history as a mail rail hub. While parcel trains are by no means a novel concept, more of us buying things online and efforts to get polluting vehicles off roads is revitalising rail as a cost effective and fast way to get goods to consumers and businesses quickly and efficiently.
“Network Rail has been working with Orion as it’s repurposing former passenger trains to serve this new purpose, while opening up the opportunities this has for economic growth as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.”
His view was supported by Karl Watts, chief executive officer for Derby based dedicated intermodal carrier Orion, who commented:
“Orion High Speed Logistics represents a revolution in the way we deliver goods into city centres. Using converted, electrically powered passenger trains, Orion is able to deliver goods into terminal and other principal railway stations where electric road vehicles complete the final mile transportation into city centres.
“The shift from road to rail transportation delivers economic, environmental and social benefits. Each 8-car train removes 24 diesel powered vans from our roads thereby reducing congestion, lowering carbon emissions and improving inner city air quality.”
The new partners say some of the UK’s largest parcel carriers have expressed interest in using the new high-speed logistics service on the converted trains, with the first scheduled services due to commence later this year between the Midlands and Scotland and more routes potentially added in 2022 dependent on customer need and available train paths. Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, said:
”It is really positive to see companies exploring innovative methods like this to transport rail freight. Repurposing former passenger trains will allow light goods to travel to consumers in a faster and greener way, helping to decarbonise our railway, reduce congestion on our roads, and support growth in the rail freight market.
“Through our reforms in the Williams Shapps Plan for Rail we are committed to unlocking the economic and environmental benefits rail freight can deliver, as we look to level up the country and build back greener.”