Drax has announced the delivery of its 200th specially designed biomass rail freight wagon.
The wagons, developed with the help of engineers at Ricardo Rail (formerly Lloyd’s Register Rail), first entered into operation in 2013. Since then, the fleet has collectively travelled over 12 million miles and transported around 4.5 million tonnes of sustainable biomass.
The wagon was designed by our rolling stock team in Derby. It is the UK’s first purpose-built biomass rail freight wagon and the largest of its kind ever produced.
At 18.88m long with top doors stretching 18.2m and bottom doors of 3.724m, the supersize wagon has a capacity of 116 cubic metres, allowing a biomass load weighing 71.6 tonnes. Its volume is almost 30 per cent bigger than any other freight wagon currently used in the UK.
It has won a number industry awards, including the ‘Rolling Stock Excellence’ category at the Rail Business Awards 2014.
The project was commissioned by Drax as part of their strategy to increase the transportation of biomass material to the power station in North Yorkshire from the ports of north east England, via the national rail network.
Unlike coal, which can be transported in open-top wagons, biomass must be protected from the elements during transit. After the success of previous a project to design and retro-fit an existing fleet of coal wagons with top-doors to protect the load, Drax wanted to develop a purpose built fleet for carrying biomass.
The brief presented our engineers with a number of challenges if they were to achieve the increased capacity whilst remaining within the limits of the national loading gauge. The final design includes many novel innovations that have subsequently been patented, including unique door designs and a product flow control to protect the biomass during loading and discharge, which also helps to reduce wastage.
To see a short film of the wagon’s design and development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be7PWgxzZQw