GE Locomotive for the UK

Alan Nov 28, 2007

  1. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    That must mean shipment of goods between the Continent and the UK in either direction would require trucks exclusively, or cross-loading to different wagons at the border. This must add significant cost to the transfer of goods.
     
  2. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    European trains are rather short: 25 cars and that's it. Many cars only have two axles. No double-stack (because of the catenary). It would be impossible to have long trains like you have: our blocksystem would be in big trouble, because trains of 2 miles long cover several blocks....

    Freight trains are not a big business here. Most goods travel by truck or boat. Trains are growing in importance since the market has been deregulated: new carriers are more customer oriented and provide better service. The 'old' carriers face competition and have to be more efficient. Governments want to invest more in freight by rail: it is more environmental friendly. And the many, many boundaries between the countries always have been a problem: changing crews and engines make it difficult to be efficient and fast. These days, they are solving these problems and trains are going from country to country. That's why I see German and Belgian trains pass by my office window :)))
     
  3. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    On the Gotthard line in Switzerland, there are such things as 4-unit head-end consists and similar helper sets. I think this is the exception rather than the rule, though.
    There was (is?) a British industrial line that used Alco S-series. These engines were unable to leave this line because of a tunnel nearby.
     
  4. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Freight trains do run from the UK to many different european countries, but the wagons (freightcars) must be passed to run through the channel tunnel, and are internationally registered.
     
  5. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    I remember that there were special cars for the UK. Those cars were allowed to be transported overseas. By boat, of course, because there was no tunnel in those days.
     
  6. GTRail

    GTRail Permanently dispatched

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    So do we have any pictures?
     
  7. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Neither the axle load factor. Here in Europe, we are used to a mean load factor of about maximum 23 metric tons per axle, vs a mean 30 metric tons per axle in North America or Australia.

    Dom
     
  8. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    It's also a problem of coupler design. Here in Europe railroads still comply with the 180-year old screw and buffer coupler style, that is about 5 times less strong that the american style automatic knuckle coupler. That's one of the main reasons why trains are far lighter and shorter than in the american or australian continents.

    Dom
     
  9. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you, Dom, that explains a physical limitation of which I for one was not aware. Has there been any discussion for converting to a knuckle coupler standard throughout the European Common Market?
     
  10. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Not that I know. And why should they? Longer trains are not possible: sidings are too short, CTC-systems are not capable of handling these trains... It will cost a lot of money to change the infrastructure. Conversion to another type of coupler is also expensive because all cars and locomotives have to be converted.
     
  11. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    I don't think so. Even if you solve this problem for a few dozen of thousands locos and cars, you still have to cope with short sidings and short automatic blocks.

    So I believe there won't ever be any long and heavy trains here like in the american, australian or chinese railroad systems.

    Dom
     
  12. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    And even another problem: when speaking with railroad rolling stock specialists I came to the following statement:

    -An US style railroad locomotive / car has a chassis that is made for center position (ie along its symetrical axis) compression and tractive effort: the knuckle works as a coupler on the tractive way, and as a damper on the compressive / pushing way.

    -An European style loco / car has a chassis that is made for tractive effort on its center position, but not for pushing effort (this purpose is driven by its side's buffers).

    So it's a completely different design, and I'm not even sure fitting knuckle couplers on european rolling stock would help for heavier loads, provided all the above was solved (sidings, automatic blocks, etc...).

    Dom
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2007
  13. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you, Dom, for your explanations. They make good sense from an engineering perspective. However, having watched SNCF operations in and around Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris about 35 years ago, I was amazed at the amount of labor and time expended during coupling operations. Is what I saw as an inefficient use of labor a concern for the accounting department, or is this accepted as a normal cost of operations?
     
  14. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    The problem with state owned railways is that labor is also a social and political issue, so it is not strange to see too many people working on the railroad. In Greece I saw a station chef in a station with a handfull of trains: he saw my ticket, put some marks on it, and that's it. Inefficient? I heard about workmen working on a turnout in Belgium: half of them were doing nothing. They have moneylosing freights but as soon as management wants to get rid of those trains, strikes are on the horizon.....

    The coupler system of passenger trains can be different from the freight cars. Some have the same (labor intensive) screw system, but other have automatic couplers. Last decades, many longdistance trains with seperate coaches have been substituted by trainsets like the TGV and Thalys: so no switching and no coupling anymore. In Holland, the railways try to avoid using coaches as much as possible. Coaches are being coupled together to behave like trainsets, and the locomotive stays coupled thanks to a cab on the other side of the train (push-pull). This way, they eliminate changing locomotives and it saves labor. Good for dwell times, good for efficiency, not good for the switch crew.....
     
  15. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Thieu, I had not thought of a state supported railway system as a federal welfare program. I applaud the logic of having the recipient provide public service, albeit inefficient, in exchange for federal welfare. This is far different than most US welfare programs where local governments have been, and are still being penalized for expecting the recipient to provide a service in exchange for federal support.

    The welfare system you describe is not only logical, it also is beneficial. It may be inefficient, but it does provide a convenient rail transportation system throughout Europe. :thumbs_up:
     
  16. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Rail transportation has always been an important social issue: provide good public transport for all inhabitants. It gives you the same chances as others who have their own transportation. It gives the older people the chance to visit their family, the young to go to school, the commuters to go to work. Besides the sometimes strange (and inefficient) use of railways as a means of providing jobs and fight unemployment, railways has always had strong social aspects. And in our country, most people also consider the railways as an social institute that has an importance like the mail, electricity and water.
     
  17. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Maybe you sometimes have the same 'system': steel mills that stay open while being inefficient? I understand that the government did not want to restructure the steel business because of the loss of jobs, and therefore protects these mills from foreign (cheaper) steel. OK, steel mills are not government controlled like most railroads are/were in Europe, but governments sometimes have the same objective: support inefficiency to protect jobs.
     
  18. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Good point....I had not considered such federal actions as steel price supports, loans to Chrysler, and bail-out of airlines after 9-11 as "welfare", but of course you are correct in the broader sense.
     
  19. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Regarding automatic knuckle couplers in the UK, these are now used extensively on block coal trains, etc. The GM class 66 locomotives have knuckle couplers which swing to the side to enable standard hook couplers to be used. In this picture the cars are all knuckle coupled, as can be seen on the rear of the train on the left.

    [​IMG]

    Here are the couplers between the wagons.

    [​IMG]

    Heavy iron ore trains also have knuckle couplers.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Thieu

    Thieu TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting!

    In Holland the knuckle coupler is used on the site of the large Steel Mill of Corus near Amsterdam. The cars that are owned by the steel mill have knuckle couplers. Unfortunately I could not take pictures of them when I was there last summer: the cars were too far away from the public road.......
     

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