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Longer, faster and heavier freight trains – is this the solution for European Railways? Findings from a case study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dewan Islam



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


The current research examines, applying qualitative research method and a case study, the notion of a ‘longer and/or faster and/or and heavier’ freight train in the European context. The case study is the trial of 1.5 km long Marathon freight train, funded by European Commission. The current research finds that at this stage there is no commercial necessity of running a 1.5km long train. There are some technical and operational limitations to run such train which are less problematic, but the commercial necessity is a must and that will need sufficient traffic volume on a longer route (to justify extra time and cost incurred in marshalling yard and reasonable pre- and post- consolidated rail transport haul). The time required to form up/disperse such large formation could arguably be a major constraint. The authors agree in principle with the ‘do more with less’ notion and the necessity of faster train concept. Also we are agreeing with the heavier train aspect. But, considering the current and future (more semi-finished and finished, containerized) cargo trend, it is more important that it is operated consistently, reliably, safe and commercially attractive relatively faster and possibly frequent services serving moderate distances (in line with EC White Paper target – around 300+ km). The operation of merging two (or more) short trains to form up to 750m long trains should be explored, in particular on the identified nine RFCs, to identify the potential and realistic opportunities for commercial deployment of ‘longer and/or faster and/or and heavier’ freight train.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Islam DMZ, Mortimer P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Benchmarking: an International Journal

Year: 2017

Volume: 24

Issue: 4

Pages: 994-1012

Online publication date: 05/02/2017

Acceptance date: 12/01/2016

Date deposited: 12/01/2016

ISSN (print): 1463-5771

ISSN (electronic): 1758-4094

Publisher: Emerald


DOI: 10.1108/BIJ-05-2015-0051


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