Passenger Trains Repurposed to Deliver Parcels into City Centres

High-speed parcel deliveries to city centres will soon be made by converted passenger trains.

Orion logistics train on test run to Euston station

At Euston station this week, Network Rail and distribution firm Orion showcased the concept with a Class 319 passenger train that has been converted to a Class 76.

The train has been fully re-fitted for logistics use and can accommodate roll cages, pallets and other customer-identified vessels or containers, and each carriage can fit approximately the same amount of goods as one articulated lorry.

It’s now also a bi-mode train with diesel engines, which allows it to use both electrified and non-electrified routes.

As well as faster delivery times – travelling up to 100mph, twice the average speed as road traffic – the converted trains are cleaner than air and road haulage, can access city centres unlike larger scale rail freight or air, and are easy to load and unload on to modes of transport for the first and last mile of delivery.

Karl Watts, Chief Executive Officer for Orion, said:

“(This) represents a revolution in the way we deliver goods into city centres. Using converted, electrically powered passenger trains, Orion is able to deliver goods into terminal and other principal railway stations where electric road vehicles complete the final mile transportation into city centres.

“The shift from road to rail transportation delivers economic, environmental and social benefits. Each 8-car train removes 24 diesel-powered vans from our roads thereby reducing congestion, lowering carbon emissions and improving inner city air quality.”

Some of the UK’s largest parcel carriers have expressed interest in the new high-speed logistics service using the converted trains.

The first service will start running later this year between the Midlands and Scotland, with more routes planned for 2022.

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