Repurposing Rollingstock

Repurposing Rollingstock

Reflecting changes in rail passenger and freight flows

Two factors are radically altering passenger and freight flows across the globe: The global pandemic and a drive to make cities fit for the future.
The global pandemic has often resulted in a steep decline in commuting passenger numbers together with a huge increase in demand for urban freight deliveries as people increasingly stay at, and work from home.  At the same time increasing public and political pressure is mounting to decarbonise transport of both people and goods as well as improve urban air quality. With urban road traffic often already above pre-pandemic levels, fast rail freight can play its part responding to changing demands whilst providing cleaner city air and lower carbon emissions. 

Forward thinking rollingstock owners are therefore considering how and where they can repurpose underutilised fleets to address these changes in demand.  The example below shows how Ricardo, Wabtec and Eversholt worked together to deliver a transformation from underutilised passenger stock to fast freight to clean up urban deliveries. 

We are proud to see the first Swift Express Freight Train completed and ready for service ​Paul Sutherland, Client Services Director at Eversholt Rail.
We are proud to see the first Swift Express Freight Train completed and ready for service

The creation of fast freight

Ricardo’s design teams have supported Eversholt Rail, a UK rolling stock leasing company, to convert a passenger train into a low-carbon option for transporting parcels direct to town and city centres via the mainline rail network.

Work to transform a classic Class 321 vehicle into the Swift Express Freight Train commenced in early 2021 at Wabtec’s Doncaster facility and was completed in June.

The train has been designed to maximise capacity for parcels and light goods whilst ensuring the interior is flexible to meet individual customer requirements.

The scope of works included removal of all passenger features and the installation of new flooring and industry standard fixings throughout.

Collaborating with both Ricardo and Wabtec on this project has delivered a train that will demonstrate the potential for a cost-effective, low carbon solution to meet the growing demand for home delivery of parcels around the UK and contribute towards the 2050 net-zero emissions targets. We look forward to seeing the Swift Express Freight train running in service later this summer.”

Responding to urban change

As the volume of parcels delivered across many cities increases, the rising van and lorry traffic is adding to existing congestion, carbon emissions and air quality issues in urban areas. This also creates significant planning problems for logistic companies and impacts on their tight delivery schedules.

The C321 Swift Express Freight, therefore, offers an alternative option: fast and reliable rail services to encourage modal shift and contribute toward the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Jonathan Brown, Ricardo's Technical & Innovation Engagement Lead (Rail) oversaw the project's design work. “It’s been immensely enjoyable to be part of the team with Eversholt Rail and Wabtec," he said. "The project required significant collaboration between all stakeholders to successfully deliver a viable solution within the time-scale. I can’t wait to see the vehicle in service and making a positive impact on sustainable logistics.”

Andy Derbyshire, Group Managing Director, Wabtec UK said: “It is great to see the recent efforts of our collaboration with Eversholt Rail and Ricardo come to fruition. Our team in Doncaster has done a superb job delivering this important milestone project and we look forward to seeing the train produce genuine carbon and cost reductions.”

If you'd like to explore retrofit and repurposing options for your rollingstock assets then get in touch via the form below.

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