February 21 2020

Freight Wagon Innovation in Europe

The following article is PROSE's contribution to the upcoming SWISSRAIL Express - a quarterly print magazine.

Disruptive innovations do not even stop at freight wagons. Everywhere in Europe, freight wagon operators are developing new freight wagon concepts to be able to meet with the stifling competition on the market. Not only DB CARGO in Germany - RCA in Austria and SBB CARGO in Switzerland are introducing a new wagon design (vulgo system wagon) consisting of a supporting wagon (substructure) and an application-oriented, flexible superstructure. Large logistics customers are also decoupling the superstructure from the rail wagon in order to be able to integrate their internal logistics seamlessly. The superstructure thus moves away from the pure rail application and is no longer approved together with the rail car, but is exchanged flexibly and seasonally or according to customer requirements. One of the reasons for the separation of superstructure and substructure is the realisation that the balancing act of innovation cycles between the railway industry (substructure) and the goods logistics industry (superstructure) is increasingly diverging, and thus the competitiveness of logistics solutions is being stifled by over-regulation in the railway industry.

In today's world of wagonload traffic, however, only traditional railway wagons operate in which the superstructure and substructure are merged and the type plate on the wagon shows the tare of the entire wagon, so that the customer and our production staff in the area know how much the payload should be.

Since the freight car operators now no longer want to allow the superstructure to be part of the car, the superstructure thus becomes the load. As a result, the customers and production employees must add the weight of the superstructure to the substructure to see how much payload is possible. This is not reasonable in the goods logistics sector, is too error-prone in interlogistics, is not permitted in cross-border traffic and therefore cannot be implemented. Furthermore, the logistics disposition must be able to recognise the wagon type at any time, which is not possible in the existing operational implementation (e.g. IT systems).

Freight wagon operators are therefore looking for a new solution in order not to have to transfer the new design to the old world (approval of superstructure and substructure again as wagons), or to create greater complexity for the customer and international traffic.

PROSE established a best practice for the operational introduction of a system freight wagon under active exchange with all European freight wagon operators. The concept phase, involving the operator internal team and external benchmarks along the freight wagon value chain, explores the degrees of freedom of the existing operation in relation to the new system wagon solution (split substructure and track) and establishes three solution scenarios.

The implementation phase evaluates the three solution scenarios with interdisciplinary teams not only qualitatively but also quantitatively with regard to their effects on operations, thus providing the basis for a business case analysis and subsequently a quantitative comparison of the individual solution scenarios, which in turn creates the basis for the preparation of an implementation plan and the prerequisites for implementation, including adjustments to the IT systems.

PROSE manages this task with the support of a freight wagon operator internal, interdisciplinary teams from engineering, sales, production and IT. A detailed planning of the operator resources in the first weeks of the project, a very independent and self-reliant handling of the project contents (methodical as well as technical), a professional methodology for the definition of suitable, manageable work packages (scope, delimitation, expected result) and a transparent and comprehensible documentation of the delivery objects is carried out.

Other PROSE news

April 21 2020
Final report on the research project "Innovative concrete sleeper" published

As announced in December 2019 PROSE has developed in collaboration with the Swiss manufacturer of concrete elements for railway applications, Vigier Rail, concrete sleepers with better vibro-acoustic properties.

March 24 2020
PROSE operating remotely during Covid-19 emergency

In the light of recent COVID-19 developments, we have made the necessary adaptations so that we can remain a constant for our trusted clients in such unprecedented times. During the past weeks, all our employees have been urged to work from home for the time being.

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