Double-stack rail transport

Double-stack rail transport
A BNSF double-stack train passing through Cajon Pass in California.
Part of a double-stack train. The middle car is owned by the TTX Company, while the containers are owned by Pacer Stacktrain.
Double-stack train loaded at APM Terminals in Portsmouth, VA.

Double-stack rail transport is a form of Intermodal freight transport where intermodal containers are stacked two high on railroad cars. Introduced in North America in 1984, double stack has become increasingly common, being used for nearly 70% of United States intermodal shipments. Using double stack technology, a freight train of a given length can carry roughly twice as many containers, sharply reducing costs per container. On most railroads, special well cars are used for double-stack to reduce the needed vertical clearance and to lower the center of gravity of a loaded car. In addition, the well car design significantly reduces damage in transit and provides greater cargo security by cradling the lower containers so their doors cannot be opened. A succession of larger container sizes have been introduced to further increase shipping productivity on domestic routes.



Containers have weight limits designed to fit road trucks, which have clearly smaller weight limits than trains. A common limit for railways is 8 tonnes (7.9 long tons; 8.8 short tons) tons per meter train length and 22.5 tonnes (22.1 long tons; 24.8 short tons) per axle. A four axle container car can take 90 tonnes (99.2 short tons; 88.6 long tons). Since a container is limited to 30.5 tonnes (33.6 short tons; 30.0 long tons) (plus a rail car), single stacking clearly does not use the load capacity of the railway. A 20-foot (6.1 m) container is limited to 24 tonnes (26.5 short tons; 23.6 long tons) and two such can fit into a car for a 40-foot (12.2 m) container, or even three if double-stacking, but not four unless very high axle load is permitted. The North American railways permit two 53-foot (16.15 m) or four 20-foot (6.1 m) containers as shown in the images on this page.

Another consideration is the maximum weight of a train. A maximum length train in Europe, 750 m (2,461 ft) long can have 50 container cars with a total weight of 2,250 tonnes (2,480 short tons; 2,210 long tons), and more if 20 ft containers are included. This is not so far from the limit using standard European couplers. Double-stacking requires allowing higher train weight to be meaningful, since it is higher train weights that saves costs. In the US, the AAR coupler used allows much higher train weight.

Sizes and clearances

Double-stack cars come in a number of sizes, related to the standard sizes of the containers they are designed to carry. Well lengths of 40 ft (12.19 m), 48 ft (14.63 m) and 53 ft (16.15 m) are most common.[1] Heights range from 8 ft (2.44 m) to 9 ft 6 in (2.9 m) ("high cube").

Double stack requires a higher clearance above the tracks, or loading gauge, than do other forms of rail freight. Double-stack cars are most common in North America where intermodal traffic is heavy and electrification is less widespread; thus overhead clearances are typically more manageable. Nonetheless, North American railroads have invested large sums to raise bridges and tunnel clearances along their routes and remove other obstacles to allow greater use of double stack trains and to give them more direct routes.

CSX lists three clearance heights above top of rail for double stack service:[2]

  • Doublestack 1 — 18 ft 2 in (5.54 m)
  • Doublestack 2 — 19 ft 2 in (5.84 m)
  • Doublestack 3 — 20 ft 2 in (6.15 m)

The last clearance offers the most flexibility, allowing two high cube containers to be stacked.


Southern Pacific Railroad (SP), along with Malcom McLean, came up with the idea of the first double-stack intermodal car in 1977.[3][4] SP then designed the first car with ACF Industries that same year.[5][6] At first it was slow to become an industry standard, then in 1984 American President Lines, started working with the SP and that same year, the first all double-stack train left Los Angeles, California for South Kearny, New Jersey, under the name of "Stacktrain" rail service. Along the way the train transferred from the SP to Conrail.

Double stack projects built or proposed in North America

Low bridges and narrow tunnels in various locations prevent the operation of double-stack trains until costly upgrades are made. Some Class I railroad companies in the U.S., often in partnership with government agencies, have recently initiated improvement programs to remove obstructions to double-stack trains, while other projects are in preliminary stages. Recent and proposed double-stack projects include:

Other countries

Europe has a more restricted loading gauge and train weights so there is no operation of double-stack cars so far.

Since electrification generally predated double stacking, the overhead wiring was too low to accommodate it. Many bridges and tunnels are too low for double-stacking, by far too expensive to rebuild for this reason. However, India is building some freight-only corridors with the overhead wiring at 7.45 m (24.4 ft) above rail, which is high enough.[10] In India (passenger), Pakistan (passenger), Finland, Russia and Kazakhstan, 25 kV AC overhead wiring at 6.5 m (21 ft) above rail.

  • Australia Australia - double stack trains operate between Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and Parkes, NSW[11] 6.5 m (21 ft) clearances [12]
  • India India - Mundra Port operates double stack diesel trains on 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) gauge using flatcars.[13] It is one of only 3 countries to commercially double stack 9 ft 6 in (2,896 mm) tall containers on a train.[14]
Because of the broad gauge used in India and Pakistan, trains can carry standard shipping containers double-stacked on standard flatcars, which is more economical than single containers, but standard gauge railways in North American and elsewhere must use special double-stack cars to lower the center of gravity [15] and reduce the loading gauge.[original research?][citation needed] Indian Railways is able to carry containers double-stacked on standard flatcars at 100 km/h (62 mph). (Triple-stacked operation with lower, 6-foot-6-inch (1,981 mm) containers, is planned [16]). Flatcars, in addition to being much less expensive than well cars, can carry more containers in a given length of train.[13][17]Experiments for double stacking under 25 kV AC overhead lines have begun because of funds given by Japan.[18] [19]
  • China China - using double stacked container trains under 25 kV AC overhead lines.[13]
  • Netherlands Netherlands - The Betuweroute, a freight rail between Rotterdam to the German border built 2007 is prepared for double-stacking insofar that tunnels are being built to accommodate double stack trains to reduce the cost and time of any future upgrade to the network.[20] The current catenary wire is too low for double stack rail transport and the upgrade is dependent on the German section of the rail road connection.
  • United Kingdom Great Britain - The small structure gauges and consequently small loading gauges on the British Railways mean that double stacking is not possible and that well cars are required to be able to transport 9 ft 6 in (2,896 mm) high intermodal containers.

Many countries, like New Zealand, have numerous low tunnels and bridges, which limits expansion for economic reasons.


  1. ^ Guide to Railcars
  2. ^ CSX System Clearance Map— Doublestack Routes
  3. ^ Cudahy, Brian J., - "The Containership Revolution: Malcom McLean’s 1956 Innovation Goes Global". - TR News. - (c/o National Academy of Sciences). - Number 246. - September-October 2006. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)
  4. ^ Chronological History - Union Pacific Railroad Company
  5. ^ Kaminski, Edward S. (1999). - American Car & Foundry Company: A Centennial History, 1899–1999. - Wilton, California: Signature Press. - ISBN 0963379100
  6. ^ "A new fleet shapes up. (High-Tech Railroading)". - Railway Age. - (c/o HighBeam Research). - September 1, 1990
  7. ^ "Norfolk Southern opens Heartland Corridor". Railway Gazette International. 9 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "CSX Announces National Gateway to Improve Flow of Freight". CSX. 1 May 2008. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Reaching up". Railway Gazette International. August 2009. p. 17. 
  11. ^ "Double stacked to Perth". Parkes Champion Post. 28 July 2008. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c Das, Mamuni (October 15, 2007). "Spotlight on double-stack container movement". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  14. ^ "Double-decker container train arrives at Mundra". 18 April 2009. 
  15. ^ Low center of gravety
  16. ^ Indian Express
  17. ^ Das, Mamuni (October 29, 2007). "Green signal for triple-stacks on diesel routes". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Preparing to handle double-stack containers, Raghu Dayal, Railway Gazette International May 2009, p46
  20. ^ "The Betuweroute solution". 01 April 2004. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Double stack — may refer to: Double stack rail transport trains with two layers of containers. A guitar amplifier configuration This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same title. If an internal link …   Wikipedia

  • Freight rail transport — For the children s book by Donald Crews, see Freight Train (book); for the song by Elizabeth Cotten, see Freight Train (song); for the album by Alan Jackson, see Freight Train (album). American freight service …   Wikipedia

  • Intermodal freight transport — For passenger transport, see Intermodal passenger transport. Intermodal ship to rail transfer of containerized cargos at APM Terminals in Portsmouth, Virginia. Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal… …   Wikipedia

  • Transport ferroviaire en europe — Le Transport ferroviaire sur le continent européen L Europe est le berceau du chemin de fer. Cependant, aujourd hui, le transport ferroviaire souffre de la concurrence de l avion, pour le trafic passager, et de la concurrence de la route, pour le …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Transport in Sudan — during the early 1990s included an extensive railroad system that served the more important populated areas except in the far south, a meager road network (very little of which consisted of all weather roads), a natural inland waterway mdash;the… …   Wikipedia

  • Transport ferroviaire en Europe — Le Transport ferroviaire en Europe concerne le continent berceau du chemin de fer. Cependant, aujourd hui, le transport ferroviaire souffre de la concurrence de l avion, pour le trafic passager, et de la concurrence de la route, pour le fret.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Rail transportation in the United States — Rail transport Operations Track Maintenance High speed Gauge Stations …   Wikipedia

  • Transport in Cameroon — Railways Railways in Cameroon are operated by Camrail, a subsidiary of French investment group Bolloré. As of 1995, the country had an estimated 1,104 km of 1.000 m gauge track. In 2007, the traffic on the line was estimated to be 1MT per year… …   Wikipedia

  • Transport in South Africa — RoadsApproximately ten thousand people die on roads in South Africa yearly [cite web|year=1999 09 28|url=|title=South Africa s deadly roads |publisher=BBC News Online|accessdate=2006 07 18] .The… …   Wikipedia

  • Transport in Djibouti — Railways total: 100 km (Djibouti segment of the Addis Ababa Djibouti railroad) narrow gauge: 100 km 1.000 m gauge note: Djibouti and Ethiopia planned to revitalize the century old railroad that links their capitals by 2003 Railway links to… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”