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The Freight Train Of The Future Should Relieve Roads

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The Freight Train Of The Future Should Relieve Roads
The Freight Train Of The Future Should Relieve Roads

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Freight traffic in Germany is already a burden on the roads - four fifths of all freight traffic is transported by truck on Germany's roads, according to the Federal Statistical Office. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) estimates that it will increase by 40% by 2030. One solution would be to relocate freight traffic increasingly by rail. But this requires new concepts.

Flexible train can transport small items

The DLR has now introduced one of these: The NGT Cargo railcar train is to run semi-autonomously and can be flexibly assembled with individual cars. "This enables us to transport different goods in a resource-saving manner, quickly and without a lot of personnel," summarizes project manager Joachim Winter from DLR. "Freight trains that are not routed and that pull numerous wagons currently deliver a uniform amount of freight from A to B," explains Winter. In the future, however, the transportation of small-scale shipments will increase significantly, which is why the DLR scientists focus on fast, reliable freight transport.

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The transportation of individual wagons is still very complex. DLR reports that between 30% and 40% of the total costs amount to assembling and separating, picking up and delivering the wagons. Manual clutch operations are often required, resulting in an average speed of 18 km / h. In addition, each transport needs about 5 days lead time to make everything available. The NGT Cargo railcar is to be constructed much more flexibly.

Sensors enable autonomous driving

The new freight wagon concept is powered by electric motors that can generate energy via the brakes and store them in a battery. The individual wagons can maneuver independently and drive the last kilometers to the customer autonomously. This is made possible by sensors on the wagon, which are used to call up the current location of the wagon and to provide the customer with detailed information.

If the single wagons are to run at high speed, they form a group with one or two powered heads. This railcar train should reach speeds of up to 400 km / h on the corresponding routes, and up to 200 km / h should be possible on the existing routes. Winter thinks even further: "You could use NGT Cargo in intercontinental freight traffic between Europe and Asia and replace container ships."

The DLR scientists are currently developing a detailed concept and are working on the vehicle architecture and the drive. The NGT Cargo wagons should be closed and aerodynamically clad. The gaps between the individual wagons are eliminated, which reduces driving resistance and ensures less noise. NGT Cargo is part of the DLR Next Generation Train project, which has been developing pioneering train concepts for ten years. The DLR wants to shorten travel times, save energy and reduce noise. (kj)

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