Electric train freight advance (we hope)…

In my occasional forays into green transport, regular readers will know that, for freight, I consider electric rail the only way to go – so I was intrigued to discover this interesting article showing a practical idea to achieve an electric shunting capability in local rail freight sidings:

Previously I’d always considered that a separate battery locomotive would be needed, but here is a scheme which, by using a moveable, retractable gantry, would allow the use of the same electric locomotive that has just delivered the trainload.

Mechanical (even overhead) loaders could load the wagons safely while the electric gantries were retracted and, I imagine, automatically isolated, and when finished, the gantries could re-establish power for the train to move on.

Now of course a Freightliner style of operation, which I’ve always reckoned was the only real way to get large lorries off the road, do not, these days, need much complexity and only the largest such as the one in this picture of Birmingham (Lawley Street) need all the container carrying overhead gantries:

Credit Peter Whatley

These gantries would preclude, I suggest, even retractable wiring, but these large freight centres could surely justify a separate battery shunting locomotive? The photo suggests that all the shunting is currently diesel. Indeed with all the exchange of containers I’m not sure there would need to be much shunting – but probably this shunting is mainly concerned with hauling a train out of the container exchange ‘sorting’ area, prior to its despatch.

Meanwhile in smaller locations an oversized (electric) forklift truck can transfer containers – and that is where this experiment for local electric train movement should flourish….

I hope it is a success because the voltage is 25KV – that is the sort of electric voltage that is not to be trifled with….