VTG Rail’s Ecofret2® rolls into service


VTG Rail UK (VTG) was delighted to join GB Railfreight (GBRf) in welcoming the delivery of its first operational Ecofret2® triple-container flat wagon sets, which will be used to support the operator’s growing demand for intermodal services.

On 8 April, the VTG Rail team visited GBRf’s new £3m Peterborough facility to formally welcome their arrival and inspect the enhanced platforms before they go into operation. The event was the culmination of a considerable amount of work and was a key moment for VTG Rail, delivering on a longstanding and multi-million-pound partnership.

Following successful prototype testing and approvals, the wagons are the first of 252, in the form of 84 triple-wagon sets, that will be delivered throughout 2021 and will soon be busy running intermodal goods to and from ports across the country.

A green innovation that also comes in blue.

The Ecofret2® is the latest innovation in maritime container transport and a revolutionary addition to VTG Rail’s fleet. With enhanced design features over the existing Ecofret, it now includes a brand new, track-friendly TF20 bogie and braking system with enhanced dynamic ride performance and additional mounting points for increased loading flexibility. The original Ecofret was a game-changer in encouraging modal shift and the new design goes even further to maximise the benefits for freight operating companies.

The key benefits of the Ecofret2® wagons are that they avoid the need for empty spaces, which are so often seen on trains made up of 60ft deck length container flats carrying a single 40ft box. These empty spaces are wasteful and create considerable turbulence when running at 75mph, which increases drag and fuel consumption. Ecofret2® platforms are fitted with a new bogie incorporating rubber suspension components and hydraulic damping, giving an improved dynamic ride. They also feature additional container mounting points on the outer platforms, meaning that either two 20ft or one 40ft box can be carried on all platforms giving maximum loading flexibility to customers.

John Smith, Managing Director, GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Colin Denman, Managing Director, VTG Rail UK.

Colin Denman, Managing Director, VTG Rail, said: “The Ecofret2® represents a step-change in efficiency and design for intermodal rail freight and we are delighted with the end result. For freight operators, the enhanced wagon design enables further cost savings when moving the larger 40ft container units, which can be passed on to deep-sea container customers, encouraging more companies to put their goods onto the railways. As with all new VTG Rail wagons Ecofret2® will be fitted with our ‘Connect’ telematics system, allowing users to subscribe to a range of GPS-based tracking and monitoring services. We look forward to working with GBRf and other freight operating companies to continue innovating to meet the demands of this dynamic and exciting sector.”

John Smith, Managing Director, GB Railfreight, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with VTG Rail once again and to be able to roll out their new fantastic Ecofret2® wagons. As we grow GBRf’s intermodal business, we couldn’t ask for a better partner than VTG, which is at the cutting edge of the industry. In addition, the whole sector has a huge role to play as we look to move more freight by rail in order to remove carbon emissions – a move which will be made easier thanks to the brilliant and industry-leading work done by the likes of VTG and GBRf”.

VTG originally named its close-coupled, multiple-platform container wagon sets Ecofret to highlight its green credentials. Rail has a much lower carbon footprint than road, and they maximise the number of boxes that can be carried. On the original Ecofret design, the outer platforms could each carry one 40 ft container and the inner platform either one 40 ft or two 20 ft containers, with payloads of up to 61 tonnes.

The first Ecofret wagons were launched into UK service back in 2012 following a significant investment in the design and development of this ground-breaking design by VTG. Provided in both triple and twin configurations, Ecofret has been running with most of the major UK FOCs for the last seven years and is now an indispensable part of the UK’s intermodal scene.

The new wagons will be built at WH Davis’ Shirebrook site in the East Midlands and are due to be completed across the rest of the year.