In 2013, Ricardo Rail (formerly known as Lloyd’s Register Rail) was asked to design a new freight wagon specifically designed for the movement of Biomass along the UK rail network.
At 18.9m long , the supersize wagon — the largest of its kind — offered a capacity of 116 cubic metres, allowing a biomass load weighing 71.6 tonnes. Its volume is almost 30% cent bigger than any freight wagon currently used in the UK.
To meet the client’s objectives, our award-winning design included several novel, patented features.
The main challenge was to maximize the capacity of the vehicle whilst remaining within the limits of the UK loading gauge and in full compliance with industry regulations. One opportunity arose from the wagon's shape. Being a less viscous product than coal, for example, biomass does not require the steep tapering at each end to help the material pour through the bottom doors during delivery, meaning extra volume could be gained by ‘squaring off’ each end.
Further capacity was also found by relocating the wagon’s pipework, structural supports and control equipment to take advantage of previously unused space, as shown in this video.
It is used by the client, Drax Power Station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, to transport biomass from the Ports of Tyne, Hull and Immingham on England’s east coast, to be used to generate low-carbon, renewable electricity.
The design won an award for 'Rolling Stock Excellence' at the UK’s Rail Business Awards in 2014.