More containers, less noise

At HHLA’s Metrans subsidiary, containers roll aboard the company fleet in a particularly ecological way.

Part of the Metrans philosophy is to check every link in the transport chain to see whether anything can be improved. For the company’s own 2,300 container flat wagons, railcar design was already optimised years ago. Martin Hořínek, 48, is COO of Metrans. He explains, "We realised that we didn’t need so much heavy iron in the design for the railcars, and that they should not be any longer than absolutely necessary." Yet Hořínek and his colleagues were still not fully satisfied. In cooperation with the Slovakian manufacturers Tatravagónka Poprad (TAPO), new railcars were developed. Now four more containers – 92 in total – can fit onto Metrans flat wagons of the standard maximum length, 610 metres. In Western Europe, trains may be 720 metres long, and therefore up to 108 containers can be transported on 27 container flat wagons In addition, the wagons hold containers of all sizes. Whether 45 ft, or other variants such as 24, 26 or 30 ft, containers can always be optimally distributed on the wagon.


Moreover, the overall weight of the container flat wagon is 30 per cent lighter than the normal equipment of state rail companies in Europe. On their own, such standard units weigh 28 to 29 tonnes, whereas the first generation of Metrans container flat wagons was ten per cent lighter at 25 tonnes and they now weigh no more than 21.5 tonnes. As a result, with a complete train of 27 railcars starting in Germany, Metrans can save 190 tonnes of unladen weight, reducing energy consumption and making rail transport even more advantageous for the environment.


Noise-reduction is another feature that make the cars more ecological. In place of cast iron, a composite material is used for the brake shoe to minimise wheel-rail noise. This principle applies to the moving parts as well as the brakes. Existing wagons are also being equipped with the technology, known as ‘K sole’.