Freightliner’s Newest Rolling Stock Spells Promise for Greener UK Rail Freight.

For industry personnel and enthusiasts, the fact of rail’s superiority with regards to emissions and energy-saving strategies compared to other modes of transport comes as no surprise. However, it might not be apparent to the uninitiated just how manufacturers and freight enterprises incorporate sound environmental practices and technology into their operations.

Rail sits at the forefront of energy efficient transportation, achieving 76% less carbon emissions according to the Rail Delivery Group. Additional output and fuel consumption is saved through significant reductions in the weight and coupling distance of rolling stock. Freightliner’s newest addition of FFA-G wagons to its fleet represents the next generation of energy-efficient, intermodal haulage capability.

Tackling freight’s emissions is paramount as the sector’s CO2 output is set to grow 22% by 2050 compared to 2015, according to the OECD and the ITF. (Click image for article).

Intermodal freight transport refers to the use of intermodal (or shipping) containers for the movement of goods across multiple modes of transport. The use of containers mitigates the need for handling of the freight itself as it can be easily transferred from one form of transportation to another, i.e., ship-to-rail or lorry-to-rail using a system of cranes.

The FFA-G container wagon has been designed with fuel economy in mind. A collaborative effort between partners Greenbrier Europe and Wabtec Axiom, a total of 230 new wagons have been commissioned out of Poland, with the first forty arriving in September of last year.

“The FFA-G wagon further enhances the environmental benefits of rail and makes an even greater contribution to bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050,” said Freightliner’s Managing Director of UK Rail Tim Shakerley, also citing the company’s previous accomplishments in the pursuit of sustainable haulage solutions: “as the first Freight Operating Company to develop standard-height 40ft platform wagons, and the first to introduce the Shortliner (Ecofret) wagon, Freightliner has a proud history of setting the standards for innovative and sustainable wagon solutions in the UK.”

More than two tonnes lighter per platform than its nearest counterpart, the FFA-G contributes to a substantial reduction in overall train weight. Through the implementation of low force track bogies (the articulated chassis that carries the wheels), the potential for track damage is minimised as are the noise levels produced when in motion.

In a bid to reduce emissions, rail freight operators have also turned to offsetting and hybrid locomotives. (Click image for article)

With an overall length of 40ft, and a working deck height of 980mm permitting the support of a 9’6” container, the FFA-G is permitted along all of Britain’s rail network that adheres to the W10 loading gauge. Loading gauge refers to the maximum height and width dimensions that a railway vehicle can be to safely pass-through tunnels, under bridges and remain clear of platforms and trackside infrastructure. In this case, W10 permits it to a maximum height of 9’6” and a width of 8’2”. This enables both Hi-Cube containers and Euro containers to pass safely throughout much of the network.

The knowledge, dedication and hard work of those involved with the design, manufacture, and implementation of the FFA-G wagon across 4 different countries and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic serves as testament to rail’s position at the helm of sustainable transportation throughout the United Kingdom and across the world.

Interested in rail decarbonisation or logistics? You may also be interested in Alan McKinnon’s book called ‘Decarbonizing Logistics: Distributing Goods in a Low Carbon World’ or Marc Levinson’s 2016 best seller ‘The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, Second Edition’. Both are available under the Shipping and Logistics section of our shop.

The joy of all things ( 66504_at_Northallerton.jpg), „66504 at Northallerton“,
John Fielding from Norwich, UK (, „Freightliner in Reading – aerial image (15113245531)“,
kitmasterbloke (’s_veteren_08530_shunts_at_Southampton_Maritime.jpg), „Freightliner’s veteren 08530 shunts at Southampton Maritime“,