The present invention relates to a system for the combined
transportation of goods by rail and road.
More specifically, the present invention relates to a system
for combined transportation according to the preamble of the independent claim.
Certain problems arise in most combined transportation
systems of the known type.
One problem consists in the fact that the present-day transfer
equipment for moving the intermodal semi-trailers away from/towards the railway
wagons typically require movable or fixed structures which are bulky, in particular
heightwise. This situation results in problems with moving the intermodal semi-trailers,
in particular when they must be loaded onto or unloaded from railway wagons arranged
underneath the overhead wires.
A further problem arises in that, generally speaking, the
intermodal semi-trailer must be oriented in a predetermined manner exclusively towards
the front or the rear of the railway wagon, in order for it to be coupled with the
structure of the latter. This operation often does not prove to be easy, owing to
the dimensions of the intermodal semi-trailers and the small amount of space available
for loading and unloading these semi-trailers onto/from the railway wagon. Moreover,
the structure of the railway wagons for combined transportation according to the
prior art is such that the operations for loading/unloading the intermodal semi-trailers
must be performed on one side only of these railway wagons.
An object of the present invention is to provide a combined
transportation system which solves these and other problems of the prior art, provides
an easier way of loading/unloading the intermodal semi-trailers onto/from the railway
wagons, ensures a high speed of transportation (140 km/h) and a reduction in the
railway transportation noise in compliance with future European standards and is
easy and inexpensive to implement.
This and other objects are achieved according to the invention
with a combined transportation system of the type described above, which has the
characteristic features of the accompanying independent claim.
Preferred embodiments of the invention are defined by the
Further characteristic features and advantages of the invention
will become clear from the detailed description which follows, provided purely by
way of a non-limiting example, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
- Figure 1 is a side elevation view of a first preferred embodiment of an intermodal
semi-trailer of the combined transportation system according to the present invention;
- Figure 2 is a side elevation view of a first assembled configuration of the
intermodal semi-trailer according to Figure 1 with a first preferred embodiment
of a railway wagon of the combined transportation system according to the present
- Figure 3 is a side elevation view of a second assembled configuration of the
intermodal semi-trailer and the railway wagon shown in Figure 2;
- Figure 4 is a rear elevation view of a further preferred embodiment of an intermodal
semi-trailer and a railway wagon which are assembled together and form part of the
combined transportation system according to the invention;
- Figure 5 is a partial side elevation view of the intermodal semi-trailer and
the railway wagon according to Figure 4; and
- Figure 6 is a side elevation view of a pair of railway wagons which are articulated
with each other according to the combined transportation system of the present invention.
With reference in particular to Figure 1, a preferred embodiment
of intermodal semi-trailers used in a system for the combined transportation of
goods by rail and road according to the invention is denoted overall by 10.
The intermodal semi-trailer 10 is intended for loading,
unloading and transferring goods and has a box 12 provided with a roof 14, side
walls 16 and a base portion 18. The box 12 comprises a front portion 12a, able to
be connected to a traction unit for road transportation (not shown) by means of
coupling devices of the known type (not shown), and a rear portion 12b having an
axle provided with wheels 20.
As is obvious to a person skilled in the art, in other
embodiments not shown, the box 12 may have a structure of a different type, for
example of the platform, double-tier, roofless or other type.
The intermodal semi-trailer 10 has a pair of receiving
seats 22 which are preferably formed laterally in the base portion 18 and are intended
to engage with special transfer apparatus.
Advantageously, the receiving seats 22 are formed as openings
passing through the base portion 18 or are formed on both sides of the semi-trailer
In the system according to the invention, the transfer
apparatus consist of lift trucks (not shown) provided with forks able to engage
with the receiving seats 22 so as to allow easy raising and movement of the semi-trailer
With reference to Figures 2 and 3, the intermodal semi-trailer
10 is shown in a respective first and a second configuration combined with a preferred
embodiment of railway wagons, denoted by 24, according to the system of the present
The railway wagon 24 has a chassis which is advantageously
symmetrical and comprises a first and second end bogies 28a, 28b which have, arranged
between them, a middle support structure 30 able to accommodate advantageously the
wheels 20 of the intermodal semi-trailer 10.
The support structure 30 of the railway wagon 24 is set
lower than the first and the second end bogies 28a, 28b and is interconnected to
the latter by means of a first and a second connecting portion 26a, 26b, respectively.
This support structure 30 has at the top a pair of longitudinal recesses 32 (only
one of which is schematically shown in broken lines) able to prevent the longitudinal
and transverse movements of the intermodal semi-trailer 10, being located on opposite
sides of this support structure 30 and having a width sufficient for retaining the
wheels 20 inside them. Therefore, the recesses 32 define respective supporting seats
for the wheels 20 of the intermodal semi-trailer 10.
As can be seen in the variation of embodiment which is
shown in Figure 5 and which will be described more fully below, wedge-shaped formations
33 preferably extend inside the recesses 32 and project from the bottom of the support
structure 30 of the railway wagon 24. The wedge-shaped formations 33 help define
shaped compartments 35 with a substantially semi-circular shape for receiving the
profile of the wheels 20 of the intermodal semi-trailer 10.
In the embodiment shown by way of example, the connecting
portions 26a, 26b have a substantially gooseneck configuration.
In the first assembled configuration shown in Figure 2,
the front portion 12a of the box 12 of the intermodal semi-trailer 10 is coupled
with the first bogie 28a of the railway wagon 24, and in the second assembled condition
shown in Figure 3, this front portion 12a is coupled with the second bogie 28b.
In short, the railway wagon 24 is designed so as to allow
coupling thereof with the intermodal semi-trailer 10 arranged with the front portion
12a of the box 12 resting equally well on the bogie 28a or 28b. Said coupling operation
may be performed for example by means of insertion of the mushroom-shaped part of
a coupling attachment (details not shown), provided in the front portion 12a of
the intermodal semi-trailer 10, inside matching seats (likewise not shown) suitably
formed in the bogies 28a and 28b.
With reference to Figure 2, it can be noted how, during
coupling between the intermodal semi-trailer 10 and the railway wagon 24, the second
bogie 28b, which is located in an opposite position to the first bogie 28a on which
the intermodal semi-trailer 10 rests, is conveniently free of loads and is able
to support further an additional goods container on the portion shown in broken
lines. The same comments made in respect of the first bogie 28a are applicable to
With reference to Figures 4 and 5, a further preferred
embodiment of a combined transportation system according to the invention is shown.
Details and parts which resemble or have a function similar to those illustrated
in the previous figures are referred to by the same reference numbers and letters.
The intermodal semi-trailer 10 comprises in the rear portion
12b of the box 12 a pair of lugs 40 which project underneath and which have, connected
to their ends, a cross member 42 located transversely with respect to this intermodal
As can be seen more clearly in Figure 5, the railway wagons
24 have a seat 44 with a substantially matching shape able to receive the cross
member 42 by means of a form-fitting connection. This form-fitting connection may
obviously be released whenever it is required to unload the intermodal semi-trailer
10 from the railway wagon 24.
Preferably, a mechanical locking device 46 including a
plurality of retractable bolts 48 and advantageously of the electrically or electronically
operated type is associated with the seat 44. When the mechanical locking device
46 is activated, the retractable bolts 48 are able to engage, in one of the manners
known to a person skilled in the art, with mating portions (not shown) of the cross
member 42. In this way, release of the form-fitting connection between the cross
member 42 and the seat 44 is prevented. Activation and deactivation of the mechanical
locking device 46 may be performed manually or, as will be described below, automatically
With reference to Figure 5, the railway wagon 24 advantageously
comprises presence sensors 50 of the type known per se, which are designed to verify
actual engagement of the cross member 42 inside the seat 44, and a central control
The presence sensor 50 is designed to transmit to the central
control unit 52 an enable signal S1 for movement of the railway wagon 24, when the
presence sensors 50 detect engagement between the cross member 42 and the respective
In variations of embodiment not shown, the central control
unit 52 may in turn forward the enable signal S1 to an external communication line
(not shown), for example linked to a locomotive unit of a train (not shown) which
uses the combined transportation system of the present invention.
The embodiment shown in Figures 4 and 5 envisages moreover
the installation of at least one detector 54 designed to detect the presence of
a wheel 20 of the intermodal semi-trailer 10, when this wheel 20 is inserted in
the compartments 35 of the middle support structure 30. If the detector 54 detects
that the wheel 20 is seated inside the compartment 35, it transmits an enable signal
S2 to the central unit 52 in order to authorize activation of the mechanical locking
device 46. Obviously, a respective detector 54 may be associated with each compartment
35 so that transmission of the enable signal S2 is subject to the actual presence
of all the wheels 20 inside the recesses 32.
In addition to providing the enable signal for activation
of the mechanical locking device 46, the detector 54 may conveniently also have
a theft-prevention function. In this case, unauthorized removal of the intermodal
semi-trailer 10 from the railway wagon 24 may be immediately detected by the detector
54 which, in response to raising of the respective wheel 20 from the compartment
35 while the mechanical locking device 46 is activated, emits, for example to the
central control unit 52, an alarm signal S3, which is interpreted as a warning of
an attempted theft.
The alarm signal S3 is advantageously forwarded by the
central control unit 52 to the external communication line, or the detector 54 may
transmit the abovementioned alarm signal S3 directly to the external communications
In other embodiments not shown, the mechanical locking
device 46 may instead also be associated with the cross member 42 and envisage the
use of different mechanisms known to a person skilled in the art, for example hooks
or the like.
Moreover, activation of the mechanical locking device 46
may be performed in a simplified manner, without using the central control unit
52, but solely by means of manual operation by an operator.
Figure 6 shows a particular possibility of assembling railway
wagons of the combined transportation system according to the invention. The figure
shows a first and a second railway wagon 24, 124 which are articulated with each
other and each combined with a respective semi-trailer 10, 110 according to the
invention. The second railway wagon 124 is similar to the type of railway wagon
described above and indicated by the reference number 24. Therefore, details and
parts of the second railway wagon 124 which resemble or have a function similar
to those of the first railway wagon 24 are referred to using the same reference
numbers and letters, but preceded by the number 1.
With reference to Figure 6, it can be noted that at one
end the first and the second railway wagon 24, 124 have a single common second end
bogie, denoted by the reference number 60. The chassis of the first and the second
railway wagon 24, 124, in particular with the respective connecting portions 26b,
126b, are therefore coupled together by means of a central articulation (not shown)
which is positioned on the common end bogie 60.
By way of conclusion, the combined transportation system
according to the invention offers the advantage of being able to load/unload the
intermodal semi-trailers onto/from the railway wagons equally well on either side
of the abovementioned wagons and orienting the abovementioned intermodal semi-trailers
in either direction.
Naturally, without altering the principle of the invention,
the embodiments and the constructional details may be widely varied with respect
to that which has been described and illustrated purely by way of a non-limiting
example, without thereby departing from the scope of the invention, as defined in
the accompanying claims.