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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 12 (April 1, 1928.)

Containers for Road and Rail

Containers for Road and Rail.

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway has been assiduously studying ways and means whereby it might best afford a service equivalent in every respect to the convenient door-to door facilities provided by the road carriers. The “road-rail” system promises to mark an epoch in the history of freight transport, and makes a great step forward in the co-ordinating of rail and road. The new service centres around the employment of containers, of which 300 have already been brought into use at a cost of approximately £20,000. Four types of containers are favoured, two being in the nature of covered wagon bodies, and the other two, open wagon bodies. One of each pair has been built to occupy the whole of the loading space on an ordinary open truck, while the other is practically half the size and is therefore suitable for loading in pairs in each wagon. Ropes and chains secure the containers to the trucks, and the containers are fitted with end doors for convenience of loading and unloading. The sides and ends of the containers are collapsible, and six or seven empty containers when folded may be loaded up on an ordinary open wagon.

At the outset the container service is confined to movement between pairs of stations where the traffic passing is of a balanced nature, and firms are being encouraged to open up depots at the railheads to deal with this container business, thereby reducing handling of merchandise to a minimum. Many years ago containers were employed to a limited extent on the former South Eastern and Chatham and Lancashire and Yorkshire railways, but this is the first real effort to introduce the arrangement on any large scale. It represents an earnest attempt to regain to rails a large volume of business which has been drawn to road by door-to-door convenience, and the new system will probably expand very rapidly as the trading public become familiarised with its working.