The Anonymous Widower

Carbon-Cutting Test Run Sees Welsh Timber Return To Railway

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on RailBusinessDaily.

These are the first two paragraphs.

For the first time since 2005, a freight train carrying Welsh timber left Aberystwyth as part of a trial that could see regular freight traffic return to the Cambrian line.

The successful trial, aimed at exploring the feasibility of transporting timber by rail to reduce carbon emissions, opens up the possibility of removing hundreds of large lorries from the rural roads of mid Wales.

These are a few details and points from the article.

  • The terminal at Aberystwyth appears to have been just outside Aberystwyth station.
  • The timber was taken to Kronospan at Chirk in North Wales.
  • The 700 ton load of ten wagons was hauled by a pair of Class 37 locomotives.
  • The pair was needed because of the route.
  • Network Rail claim that upwards of sixteen trucks were taken off the roads of mid-Wales.

This Network Rail picture shows the loading of timber at Aberystwyth station.

And this Network Rail picture shows the two Class 37 locomotives.

It looks to me, that the locomotives pushed the empty train in and pulled the full train out. Once on its way, the train took the Cambrian Line to Shrewsbury and then it was about twenty miles to tyhe Kronospan factory at Chirk.

This video shows the train leaving.

I appears to have been filmed at a convenient level crossing.

Conclusion

It must have been a success, as they are going to repeat the exercise.

There would appear to be only one problem. The pair of Class 37 locomotives make a bit of a noise.

  • The pair have a power of 2610 kW.
  • I estimate that the journey between Aberystwyth and Chirk will take around two hours and thirty minutes.
  • Aberystwyth and Chirk is a distance of about a hundred miles.

It looks to me that this journey could be handled by one of the new Class 99 locomotives, that I wrote about in Class 99 Electro-Diesel Locomotive Order Confirmed.

I also doubt whether a battery-electric Class 99 locomotive could handle the route, but a hydrogen-powered locomotive, that fuelled at Aberystwyth might be able to do it.

I do think though, that passenger trains between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury could in the future be hydrogen-powered.

So if hydrogen were to be provided at Aberystwyth, hydrogen haulage of the timber trains would be a possibility.

May 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Timber Freight Train Runs For First Time In 18 Years

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Network Rail has partnered with Colas Rail in a pilot project to run a timber freight train for the first time in 18 years.

A sawmill in Abergavenny has received the first rail-transported timber since 2004 which was transported 92 miles from Hackney Yard near Newton Abbot.

I do wonder how many other specialised freight trains like these could be run.

As it was only 320 tonnes on eight wagons, it was probably hauled by a diesel Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

If there were hydrogen-powered locomotives available, would this encourage more companies to switch from road to rail.

It also appears that for this movement, Network Rail had strengthened a bridge. Are there enough yards, where heavy trucks can access the railway?

Timber Imports

With the situation in Ukraine, I wondered if we imported any timber from Russia, that could perhaps be replaced by locally-grown timber.

I found this page on the Forest Research web site from the UK Government, which is entitled Origin Of Wood Imports.

Our biggest timber imports from Russia are wood pellets and plywood.

Wood pellets are an obvious import, as we also import large amounts from the United States and Canada and all three countries have extensive forests and I suspect they all produce large amounts of woody waste, that is only suitable for making into pellets.

Are we recycling scrap wood and woody waste, as best we can in the UK or are we just burning it on bonfires? The guy opposite lost a tree in the recent storms and a tree surgeon came with a special truck and a shredder to reduce it to small pieces of woody waste. Did that go to make pellets for Drax and other boilers that burn them?

It strikes me, that there may be opportunities For creating or enlarging our own wood pellet industry to cut imports.

Plywood comes mainly from China (37 %), Brazil (18 %), Finland (9 %) and Russia (8 %). Of these, I suspect only one has good environmental standards.

As this softwood plywood for lower-grade applications only needs wood from trees, that we can grow in this country, perhaps we should make a lot more in automated plants.

I’m sure Network Rail would be happy to arrange the transport.

February 25, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 9 Comments