GBRf IIA Biomass Hopper Wagons 08/10/2020

Accurascale announce GBRf IIA Biomass Wagons in OO!

Accurascale are delighted to announce that the GBRf IIA biomass hopper wagons, converted from existing HYA coal wagons will be their next wagons in OO/4mm.

The IIA biomass hopper features several notable changes over the previously announced HYA/IIA coal hopper. As well as the distinctive roof doors and operating equipment, it also has the WH Davis revised design of end plates with just seven wider vertical stiffeners versus 15 on the Romanian-built examples, plus door master controls and four additional small boxes per side that contain the magnetic switches on the real thing for door/hopper operation.

Both livery variants will be produced in the first run each with two packs of two hoppers giving eight unique numbers. Pack 1 will also include a hopper with factory-installed illuminated flashing tail lamp, with on-off magnetic switch control (telescoping magnet wand supplied)

Decorated samples of these wagons are due later this year and should they meet with Accurascale approval they will move on to production, with delivery scheduled for Q2 2021.

Pre-ordering is now open with the wagons packaged in pairs for a price of JUST £74.95 per pack.

PRE-ORDER YOURS HERE

In the run up to the passing of the Energy Act in December 2013, which restricted carbon emissions from fossil fuel power stations, a number of electricity generating companies began modifying some or all of their boilers to burn imported wood pellets (one form of biomass) rather than coal. The first to make the switch was Drax, the UK’s largest power station, but other rail-served locations followed, including Fiddlers Ferry, Ironbridge and Lynemouth, in some cases a last nod to a cleaner future before being switched off for good.

Initially Drax received biomass pellets in unmodified bogie coal hoppers, but as the fuel could be ruined if it rained – very likely with British weather – a more permanent solution was required. DB Schenker, Freightliner and GB Railfreight all converted various existing wagons with new opening roofs as prototypes, with only GBRf and partner VTG committing to an upgrade programme for their IIA fleet. Drax later went on to order its own purpose-built wagons, while more recently GBRf has also purchased a custom fleet for the Lynemouth flow.

The first GBRf biomass hopper, IIA No. 37 70 6955 273-7, was outshopped from WH Davis, Langwith Junction, in December 2009, and featured two long pneumatically-operated doors that opened and closed automatically for loading, preventing water egress and dust blowoff during transit. Just over one hundred examples were built or recalled to WH Davis from earlier batches for conversion, all from the 37 70 6955 222-288/305-352 batches, with the last being modified in mid-2013. Wagons in the 200 series were delivered prior to First Group selling GBRf to Europorte and included First, GBRf and VTG branding, while the remainder (300 series) were constructed afterwards and sport only VTG logos (repositioned on the left of the body) and GBRf branding.

While Drax is by far the largest consumer of biomass still operating, engorging itself on train after train of Drax’s own hoppers and GBRf IIAs, Ironbridge also took regular deliveries in GBRf’s converted hoppers until it closed in late 2015. Meanwhile, the imported pellets arrive at a number of different ports, with Tyne Dock being the most important, with Liverpool Bulk Terminal and Portbury, near Bristol, also contributing significant quantities and bringing these wagons to the South West, Midlands and Trans-Pennine routes. GBRf Class 66/7s are most common up top, although the operator’s small fleet of Class 60s are regulars on the Tyne Dock-Drax circuit.