‘Jumbo’ trains to cut air pollution is a welcome move
Ron Fox was commenting on a Network Rail experiment to lengthen supersized freight trains to 775 metres (2,540ft) during lockdown when there was a sharp drop in the number of passengers.
“It is a very interesting idea and any moves to reduce the lorries on our roads and improve our environment is to be welcomed,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.
The longer trains have been given permission to operate until May this year when the new summer timetable is due to begin.
Since March last year trains have been lengthened temporarily to carry goods and materials around the country to take advantage of the greater capacity on the network and the drop of up to 70 per cent in people travelling by rail.
Although trains up to 775 metres in length have been permitted for a number of years this had been restricted because of a sharp increase in the demand for passenger rail travel.
“But there are a number of problems with these super-sized trains,” said Ron.
“The main one is the time needed to pass through a junction or station, which delays other trains by a few minutes and causes a ripple through the timetable, as well as the problems of providing loops or sections of line to allow faster locomotives to overtake them.
“However, I am concerned that if this trial continues when the passenger timetable is running back at its usual frequency in the summer there might be more delays on the railways.
“Also, can the signalling, especially the original Victorian blocks, cope with these longer trains plus are the loops big enough for these jumbo trains to let the faster trains pass them by?”
“Against that there are considerable environmental benefits because of a reduction in the number of engines needed and a cut in the HGVs that could be taken off the roads and motorways.”
But he added: “I am encouraged that the rail companies are going to look at short-term opportunities to run longer and heavier trains and to speed up schedules which may led to more long-term solutions.”