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Freight forwarding

Specific heights and sturdy suspensions able to withstand the stress of being loaded on trains: increasingly common on our roads thanks to government incentives, here are their characteristics

Massimo Lanari


It's easy to talk about intermodal transport, trucks travelling on railroads, sustainable transport, and so on. But what features should an Intermodal trailer have, making it able to be loaded on trains? On September 19, the Government introduced new incentives for these trailers (already basically sold out), complying with the UIC 596-5 regulation for rail transport and IMO for the sea transport. But let’s take a closer look at one of the trailers that meets this standard: the curtainsider Lecitrailer Huckepack P400 Mega trailer. There are four classic Hupac side hooks for lifting, used by the Swiss giant, as well as most Italian rail terminals; in addition to the legs with wheels to prevent damages during portside shunting.


This trailer has XL approval, which allows it to be loaded on trains traveling at 140 km / h instead of the usual 120 km / h. But that’s not all. Each semi-trailer, in addition to being approved, must be encoded by the authorities or by authorized rail operators – just like Hupac - which establishes which rail routes they can travel on. To attribute the codes, two factors are necessary: suspension efficiency and resistance, especially to stress, during lifting and loading procedures, and the total height of the wagon-semitrailer unit.

Let's start with the first aspect. Until a few years ago, the use of ropes to retain the suspension when the trailer is in the air was widely in use, now a new solution is rapidly gaining ground, also used by the Huckepack trailer: the Saf rail loading system, where air suspensions are disconnected with a lever and then reset once the semi-trailer is loaded.


Coming to the second aspect, the height measurement is crucial in view of the different shapes and sizes allowed for European galleries. The height of the unladen Lecitrailer is 3880 mm at the front and 3930 mm in the rear. Enough to receive the P400 code (maximum height of the railway wagon 4000 mm), but not the P386 code (maximum height 3860 mm), so common on European soil. The P400 code allows the greatest freight capacity and is now compatible with the standards in force on most of the Swiss, Austrian, German and Benelux rail networks. In Italy, however, this standard is found only on the Novara-Sempione line, on the Brenner line and by most of the lines in the Northeast of the country.

Not so though for the two railway lines going to Switzerland closer to the Busto Arsizio terminal, i.e. via Chiasso and via Luino: here, pending the conclusion of the upgrading operations in view of the opening of the new tunnel through Saint Gotthard and Mt. Ceneri , the standard code is P386 (height 3860 mm) and only with the consent of RFI, which requires, however, to reduce the speed from 100 to 10-30 km / h in the vicinity of some stations. As usual, infrastructure problems prevent the development of intermodal transport in our Country. And that’s not even the worst scenario: In the Southern half of the Country C22 is the travelling standard, with a total height, 2670 mm, which is quite insufficient.


Completing the profile of the Lecitrailer , the tare of 7500 kg and the especially designed bow profiles, for the transportation of tires. Lodged on four columns instead of the usual three, and reinforced by an aluminum lattice that prevents possible displacement of the load. Something frequently punished, by both the Swiss and German traffic police, but also by rail operators. Load retaining straps are attached to the bow profiles and two small steps prevent lateral movement of palletized goods, and the tarpaulin is of the anti-theft kind.

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