VTG Aktiengesellschaft, one of the leading wagon hire and rail logistics companies in Europe is collaborating with Chart Ferox to build two prototype units for the safe and economical carriage of LNG by rail.

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.

“It is a great pleasure for us to be working with Chart Ferox for this innovative transport solution,” states Dr. Heiko Fischer, Chairman of the Executive Board of VTG Aktiengesellschaft.

“This project scores double points in the environmental area as natural gas is a clean burning energy solution and correspondingly rail is an ecologically sound transport solution.”

“We are very excited by the fact that we are creating an entirely new transport option for LNG, and one that reinforces Chart’s small scale LNG product portfolio.” says Miroslav Cerny, Chart Ferox Director of Business Development.

Innovation for greater safety

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 tonne wheel sets instead of the usual 22.5 tonne wheel sets and as an option GPS monitoring of the pressurised 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.

From road to rail

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. “In addition to the profitability aspect, this is primarily also substantiated by the safety and environmental protection represented by rail transport”, continues Fischer.

Two rail tank cars replace four trucks or five tank containers on the roads. That means fewer traffic jams, lower environmental impacts, and lower costs.