Right on track: Take a look at how we handle rail products

From shipping heavy locomotives to bringing electric trains to a new commuter line, RoRo helps make rail journeys a reality. Discover how our unique handling solutions play a crucial role in getting everything from rail cars to trams from A to B.

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Railways keep the world moving. As cities and populations expand, global investment and demand for rail transportation is growing fast – with passenger and freight activity predicted to more than double by 2050. For governments looking to support this increasing flow of people and goods and tackle climate change, rail also provides a greener alternative to other modes of transport.

But moving the carriages and locomotives that form the backbone of rail journeys is a delicate logistics operation that relies on precision planning and expert handling.

This is where RoRo shipping can help. A regular liner service means large volumes can be shipped over the duration of a project to keep up with production capacity, while the range of handling equipment solutions ensures even the most oversized products can be transported.

The ocean voyage itself is only one part of the logistics puzzle – getting these products onboard our vessels relies on specialized handling equipment. Depending on the dimensions, weight and characteristics of the rail components in question, here are four main options we use to ensure their safe transportation…

Option 1: Railed roll trailers

Vital statistics

Dimensions: 62ft, 72ft, 82ft, with 1,067mm, 1,435mm and 1,600mm rail gauges

Capacity: Up to 100MT

Number in fleet: Approximately 650

The workhorse of our equipment fleet, our roll trailers have integrated rails that accommodate a variety of different rail gauges.

“Our equipment solutions can eliminate the need for lifting entirely,” explains Carsten Wendt, head of breakbulk sales Germany at Wallenius Wilhelmsen. This means products can be rolled directly from the tracks or a road trailer using a special bridge and simply towed onboard to be stowed under deck for the duration of the sea voyage.

Designed to transport products up to 100MT in weight and 28 meters in length, roll trailers are an ideal match for handling a variety of rail car shells.

Click through to see our railed roll trailers in action

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Roll trailers are an ideal option for handling rail car shells

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The trailer's integrated rails can accommodate a variety of different rail gauges

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Once on the roll trailer, products are towed onboard

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Rail cars remain on the roll trailers for the duration of the voyage

Option 2: Multi-purpose bogies (MPBs)

Vital statistics

Capacity: Up to 140MT per set

Max product length: 40m

Number in fleet: 65 sets

Want to ship a longer rail car, up to 40 meters? Compared to roll trailers, MPBs offer better load distribution making them a safe choice for lengthier products. Consisting of two bogies, or turntable platforms, with different rail gauges, MPBs can be maneuvered from both ends, allowing better control – and reduced risk of damage – during loading and discharge.

MPBs are a versatile solution. The wider tipping point makes them ideally suited for handling wide and/or high products too, while the fact that the pivot point is located at the center of the bogie means it’s also easier to get clearance for high rail car shells when entering the vessel hold.

Click through to see our MPBs in action

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MPBs offer a versatile solution for handling longer rail cars

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They can be maneuvered from both ends, reducing the risk of damage during loading

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Used in pairs, MPBs are capable of handling products up to 140 metric tonnes

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Consisting of two bogies, or turntable platforms, MPBs can handle products up to 40 meters in length

Option 3: Connecting bridges

Connecting bridges are used to move products between a road trailer or directly from the rail tracks to our equipment (roll trailer or MPBs). They can also be used to link two railed roll trailers to accommodate extra-long rail cars.

“Rather than disconnect carriages, OEMs often want to transport products like trams as one complete unit. Often, however, these products are too long to be placed on a single roll trailer, but this solution enables us to load carriages over 24 metres in length,” says Wendt.

“By joining two regular roll trailers with a connecting bridge, the product in question can be driven onboard the vessel on a road trailer and then pulled onto the extended roll trailer via the bridge and secured into position.”

Click through to see our connecting bridges in action

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Connecting bridges can be used to link two railed roll trailers

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The solution enables carriages over 24 meters in length to be loaded as a complete unit

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A tram car is pulled onto the extended roll trailer via the connecting bridge and secured into position

Option 4: Creating customised solutions

Even before rail car production begins, we collaborate closely with customers to advise on how products will be handled and where to incorporate lashing points into the design. Sometimes though, a customised handling solution is needed, which is where our team of skilled engineers steps in.

The Rocky Mountaineer project is one example. With each carriage measuring 5.52m high, 27.3m long and 75MT in weight, we couldn’t use an existing off-the-shelf solution. Instead, we designed a special trailer with a lower profile in order to accommodate the impressive proportions of the double-decker carriages and ensure they could clear the door height of the vessel.

“The legacy of this project lives on in the trailers – known as ‘the Rocky Trailers’ – which we still use today,” adds Captain Fredrik Hedin, breakbulk projects, segment development West. “This is just one example. Every project is a learning curve and pushes us to consider ‘what could be done even better?’. We’re constantly improving and evolving our equipment and our expertise to deliver the safest solutions for rail customers.”

Click through to see our customised solutions in action

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The dimensions of the Rocky Mountaineer carriages meant a specialized solution was needed

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The Rocky Trailer was custom made to handle the 5.52 meter high carriages

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The trailer's lower profile meant the carriages could clear the vessel door height

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