"Interaction between new technologies for combined freight transport with the design and operation of railway facilities”

(Karl-Vossloh-Stiftung: 2015-2018)

Recent technological innovations for combined freight transport have attracted considerable attention from the freight industry. These technologies have, however, rarely made their way into daily operations. One critical reason for this is that access to the railway network is missing. Although it is clear how a link station for public transport should be designed, it is unclear what the equivalent for freight transport should look like. There is, naturally enough, considerable political and social demand to take advantage of the energy efficient nature of railway transportation by shifting as much freight transport as possible to the rails. This would, however, require a significant number of decentralized transshipment terminals along the rail corridors to compliment the existing freight distribution centers. These additional terminals would provide the maximum economic improvement to freight transport with a minimum of additional construction and maintenance costs.The design of these transshipment centers should derive from research into – and the application of – innovative technological approaches. The new designs will be visualized through interactive virtual reality techniques. Some core questions in the project are:

  • How can freight be transferred to and from the rails during a scheduled stop on a maintrack without using a crane?
  • Can existing passing loops be given a secondary function to make them mini “RailPorts“?
  • How can intelligent safety and control systems expedite existing operating processes?
  • What construction, business, and financial advantages would be offered by introducing push-­pull trains to freight transport?

The project will demonstrate not only to the scientific community and the general public but also to the economic and political leaders of the freight transport industry that real development plans for improving combined transport are possible. The interplay between automotive engineering, transshipment and operational technology, safety and control systems, as well as physical infrastructure will be made accessible in an interactive virtual reality simulation. “More Freight on the Rails” will become more than just a political slogan. It is a real economic and technical goalthat the Karl-­Vossloh­Stiftung is funding from January 2015 through December 2018 with 89,200€.

Professor for Railroad Engineering - Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Christoph Thiel

Professor for Graphics Systems – Univ.- Prof. Dr. habil. Douglas Cunningham

Christian Menzel, M.Sc., Academic Employee and Ph.D student
T: +49 (0) 355 69 2891