Select Page

How Not To Run A Train

Subject to availability on the day and at the right time, it’s relatively easy to hire a truck and a driver. With a rail system, there is more to think about – for instance, unlike with a truck, you can’t just set off when you feel like it, as the railway is a timetabled system (higher speeds and heavier loads require this).

For people considering freight modal shift, there’s actually a much greater set of issues to address, and even well-informed customers can still run into problems, as the following example shows.

During 2018-19, the F3 Project (Fast Frequent Fulfilment) worked up a rail route for multiple customers, which required an intermodal train to run from Wellingborough to Wigan to Middlesbrough and back, within 24 hours, as a test, presaging potential future operation. However, the train never quite managed to run, and it’s instructive to understand why:

1. The wagons were to reach Wellingborough by bringing down from Scotland a trainload of Christmas trees. Unfortunately, due to a change of dates, there was a mismatch between the need to supply the trees (before Christmas, obviously) and the availability of other resources;

2. No wagons were available for the desired dates;

3. The Freight Operating Company concerned did not have spare drivers available for all the journey legs, on the next set of desired dates;

4. The train was timetabled but a GT-3257 form had not been completed for part of the route. This form is designed to ensure the safety of the rail network, by checking that the particular wagons intended for a specific train have actually previously run on all sections of the route concerned – and have been proved to fit under all the bridges (the structure gauge);

5. Eventually, the train was timetabled and was within a few days of running. Freight Arranger staff discovered (quite by chance, when organising their own personal travel to meet the train at the other end) that a set of weekend engineering works had not been taken into account, so access to Middlesbrough was not possible then.

Such examples reinforce the need to work through a competent company within the rail freight industry, who understand all these details – and the importance of getting them right.

Contact Us

To avoid HGV driver shortages and reduce CO2 emissions, send us an enquiry or call 01453 367150.