May 2012 in Freight Operations
The volume and weight of the loads carried by these wagons means that they are subjected to heavy impact during the journey. As a result they are examined at the end of every journey after being unloaded, to check for damage or considerable wear to the springs, buffers, top cradles and couplings. Proposed changes to the length of time between examinations is concerning the reporter, as the company is suggesting that the wagons return to their starting destination before being examined. This will result in some wagons travelling up to 400 miles without being checked. The reporter is concerned that undertaking infrequent examinations could lead to a derailment or an incident if damage to a wagon is not found in time.
Response from DB Schenker
DB Schenker would like to apologise for the time taken in responding and to thank the reporter for raising this issue.
The design of wagons is such that they are able to carry their designed load. The design is also required to include an allowance for possible overloading both from the load being carried and in-service loads generated during traction and braking, for example shocks. The design requirements apply to the whole vehicle, which includes vehicle structure, suspension system, wheelsets, brake performance, load retention, etc...
DB Schenker has a formal policy for the inspection of freight trains. This is contained principally within DB Schenker documentEWS/EM/0030, and other associated documents, as referenced. The need to undertake examination of freight trains is given in this document.
Any changes to this policy are subject to risk assessment to demonstrate that the process remains safe. Any risk assessment includes review of current safety and operational performance of the vehicles together with assessment of what could go wrong. Any changes to policy are validated and published in order to advise of the change.
DB Schenker has identified that subject to train examination being undertaken by competent staff in accordance with the defined criteria, some traffic operations do not necessarily require to be examined after every journey.