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VTG and Chart Ferox collaborating on developing rail tank cars for LNG transport

28 May 2014

VTG Aktiengesellschaft, one of the leading wagon hire and rail logistics companies in Europe is collaborating with Chart Ferox, a worldwide leading manufacturer of storage, transport, and distribution systems for liquefied air and natural gases, to build two prototype units for the safe and economical carriage of LNG by rail. Two rail tank cars will replace four trucks or five tank containers, reducing the environmental footprint of transport.

VTG possesses more than 60-years’ experience in the design and construction of rail tank cars and Chart Ferox is a specialist in the development of transportable containers for cryogenic liquids. Through this collaboration VTG and Chart Ferox will develop and construct Europe’s first LNG rail car prototypes.

VTG is responsible for the development and the final completion of the two prototypes including obtaining the necessary permissions and railway specific approval. Final assembly of the LNG railcar will take place at Waggonbau Graaff in Elze (Germany), VTG’s innovation platform. The cryogenic parts, vessels and cabinets, will be built at Chart Ferox facility in Czech Dĕčin.

The prototypes will be capable of transporting double the payload volume as compared to an LNG tank container or truck. Due to the excellent insulation properties, LNG rail tank car holding time is up to six weeks. A unique suspension technology between the cryogenic vessel and the undercarriage rail frame required special development, which concluded dynamic and vibration calculation tests.

As an additional safety measure the wagons are fitted with 25-ton wheel sets instead of the usual 22.5-ton wheel sets and as an option GPS monitoring of the pressurized container. Even transport from and to Spain does not represent a hurdle in spite of the different track gauges. The wagon is designed so as to enable gauge conversion at the Spanish border. The prototypes will be completed by the end of 2014 and subsequently undergo a rigorous testing and approval process.

To date, natural gas has traditionally been transported via pipelines. Because the volume of the cryogenic natural gas decreases about 600 times once liquefied, it can be transported by ship, truck, and tank container. Especially in this area, VTG sees a distinct potential for rail in the transport of LNG.

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Comments

Since Spain operates trains on both the 1435 mm (4'8.5") gauge used in the Americas and the wider Iberian gauge, I'm wondering if these cars would be operable by US railroads as well.  If gas pipelines can't be built out of the Bakken, perhaps it can be liquefied and shipped out on trains instead.  Anything that eliminates gas flaring is an improvement.

Making better use of existing (underused) railroads to transport liquid fuels, could be a smart way to get around new overly delayed pipelines authorization and construction.

Some rail lines and tankers may have to be improved to meet improved safety levels. That is not impossible to do.

TransCanada Pipeline and CN + CP are planning to do that in the near future.

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