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The Polish Science Voice
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January 26, 2012   
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A group of engineers from the Military University of Technology have designed an innovative railroad car with a revolving low-floor platform that can be used to carry trucks.

The system for the transport of trucks by rail designed by the WAT engineers has many advantages. It is based on the use of freight train cars with special revolving platforms for fast, safe and easy loading and unloading of vehicles. The system features special ramps that require no additional loading/unloading equipment such as cranes or hoists. This enables cheap, environmentally friendly and safe transport of trucks with a total length of up to 17 meters.

The greatest difficulty in building a train car for transporting trucks is to strike a balance between the maximum dimensions of the wagon loaded with cargo and the degree of its tilting at turns. Unless the balance is preserved, the railroad car can damage the electric traction system or fail to fit into a tunnel, for example. The floor of the wagon carrying a standard truck trailer must have a maximum height of no more than 70 mm—not much for a structure expected to cope with the weight of the entire trailer and its contents.

The WAT researchers—who hail from the Department of Mechanics and Applied Computer Science at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering— have built such a wagon by transferring the greatest load to the hydraulic locks and the side of the railroad car. The researchers employed modern design and advanced numerical analysis methods and used highly durable materials in the process.

The floor of the train car revolves around a central axis along which a truck can enter the wagon together with the trailer. This allows the loading and unloading of trailers wherever there is access to a paved surface around the tracks. No special platforms, cranes or loading hoists are needed because the truck can enter the train car straight from an appropriately prepared strip of land adjacent to the tracks. The train can be loaded from both sides, each car independently. Unloading can occur at any place where there are railroad tracks and a railway siding.

Combined rail and road transport speeds up the transit of trucks, while reducing pollution and helping limit the wear and tear on roads by heavy vehicles. Such a transport system also shortens delivery time and eliminates the need for trucks to stop at border crossings.
Tadeusz Belerski
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