Train - Freight Trains

Freight Trains

A freight train (also known as goods train) uses freight cars (also known as wagons or trucks) to transport goods or materials (cargo) – essentially any train that is not used for carrying passengers. Much of the world's freight is transported by train, and in the United States the rail system is used more for transporting freight than passengers.

Under the right circumstances, transporting freight by train is highly economic, and also more energy efficient than transporting freight by road. Rail freight is most economic when freight is being carried in bulk and over long distances, but is less suited to short distances and small loads. Bulk aggregate movements of a mere twenty miles (32 km) can be cost effective even allowing for trans-shipment costs. These trans-shipment costs dominate in many cases and many modern practices such as Intermodal container freight are aimed at minimizing these.

The main disadvantage of rail freight is its lack of flexibility. For this reason, rail has lost much of the freight business to road competition. Many governments are now trying to encourage more freight onto trains, because of the benefits that it would bring.

There are many different types of freight trains, which are used to carry many different kinds of freight, with many different types of wagons. One of the most common types on modern railways are container trains, where containers can be lifted on and off the train by cranes and loaded off or onto trucks or ships.

In the U.S. this type of freight train has largely superseded the traditional boxcar (wagon-load) type of freight train, with which the cargo has to be loaded or unloaded manually. In Europe the sliding wall wagon has taken over from the ordinary covered goods wagon.

In some countries "piggy-back" trains or rolling highways are used: In the latter case trucks can drive straight onto the train and drive off again when the end destination is reached. A system like this is used through the Channel Tunnel between England and France, and for the trans-Alpine service between France and Italy (this service uses Modalohr road trailer carriers). "Piggy-back" trains are the fastest growing type of freight trains in the United States, where they are also known as "trailer on flatcar" or TOFC trains. Piggy-back trains require no special modifications to the vehicles being carried. An alternative type of "inter-modal" vehicle, known as a roadrailer, is designed to be physically attached to the train. The original trailers were fitted with two sets of wheels — one set flanged, for the trailer to run connected to other such trailers as a rail vehicle in a train; and one set tyred, for use as the semi-trailer of a road vehicle. More modern trailers have only road wheels and are designed to be carried on specially adapted bogies (trucks) when moving on rails.

There are also many other types of wagons, such as "low loader" wagons for transporting road vehicles. There are refrigerator cars for transporting foods such as ice cream. There are simple types of open-topped wagons for transporting minerals and bulk material such as coal, and tankers for transporting liquids and gases. Today, however, most coal and aggregates are moved in hopper wagons that can be filled and discharged rapidly, to enable efficient handling of the materials.

Freight trains are sometimes illegally boarded by passengers who do not wish to pay money, or do not have the money to travel by ordinary means. This is referred to as "freighthopping" and is considered by some communities to be a viable form of transport. A common way of boarding the train illegally is by sneaking into a train yard and stowing away in an unattended boxcar; a more dangerous practice is trying to catch a train "on the fly", that is, as it is moving, leading to occasional fatalities. Railroads treat it as trespassing and may prosecute it as such.

Read more about this topic:  Train

Famous quotes related to freight trains:

    These have been wonderful years. How many happy, happy times we have traveled about together! Day and night, in stage coaches, on freight trains, over the mountains and across the prairies, hungry and tired, we have wandered. The work was sometimes hard and discouraging but those were happy and useful years.
    Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906)