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HERMES aims to achieve such optimisation by combining industrial expertise on the freight wagon design and construction, application of advanced materials for the lightweighting and smart facilities for the logistic operations, with the research capabilities to incorporate innovation solutions and optimise material performance.

According to the expertise of the industrial partners as well as the research capabilities of the consortium the following technical objectives have been set to meet the expected project aim:

  • Increase the global performance of rail freight services to transport bulk material in different conditions, meeting the needs of industry in terms of productivity, competiveness, effective operability, maintenance and costs. Achieve a logistic system that is climate- and environmentally-friendly, contributing to the reduction of carbon footprint.
  • Develop a novel strategic design of bulk freight railcar enabling an increase loading and discharge speed. Solutions will come from wagon geometrical aspects, as the optimization of the centre of gravity, from surface engineering solutions, as a tailored distribution of coating in different wagon areas as a function of their friction and wear resistance needs, and from bulk material flow simulation, that will give optimum particle properties that enable fast loading/discharge operations. Flow simulations will also allow designing unloading station with reduction dust formation, which is a major safety (flammable problems), healthy (hazardous volatile materials) and environmental drawback in granular materials transportation, especially when unloading stations are close to cities. It will allow to transport a wide range of granular materials and then highly diversify the freight business.
  • Implement new engineering and multi-material based solutions in cargo wagons to satisfy the much needed search-for high-excellence transport by rail. It is expected to reach weight reductions of 25-30%, depending on the bulk freight density and new wagon volume can suppose an increase of more than 50% per meter wagon of the load capacity. Accordingly, energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reduction are also foreseen, contributing to further increase railway competitiveness against road transport. For example, based on the current expertise of IBP and FGC, for each train of 24 wagons intended to be transported a reduction of 6.000t CO2 will be accomplished with respect to road transport.
  • As a consequence of the new design of the freight wagon and the application of high performance materials, as described in the two previous points, it is expected to double, at least, the load factor for freight wagons. Current load factor is in the range of 3-4 for transporting granular materials. It is expected to further increase it and then reach significantly higher levels of productivity.
  • Take a step well beyond the state of the art in bulk freight railcar interior surface coatings aimed at: (a) reducing the friction coefficient, which enables fast loading/discharge operations and then increases productivity and give rise to lower dwell times. (b) Providing high abrasion and corrosion resistance against different bulk products such as potash and salt, which reduces maintenance and reparation wagon costs (c) Enabling multiproduct transportation, as the capacity to transport goods both for human consumption and chemical industry. (d) Reducing paint weight, at least at 10%, to contribute to the overall wagon lightweighting, by introducing hollow glass spheres in the paint formulation.
  • Diversification of the freight business through a modular and flexible wagon design, that will facilitate multimodal operations. It will deliver significantly higher levels of productivity and placing rail amongst the “best-in-class” of logistic operators. Disruptive innovation will he applied in the HERMES project to break the paradigm of static binding between the platform and the wagon box and enable fast and easy exchange of different transportation means and guarantee multimodal operation.
  • Develop a method for fast cargo rail tank cleanse, reducing the risk of material cross for high-purity bulk freight. It will also permit new business from this completely new flexibility in different bulk products in the same freight train.
  • Incorporate value-added services in train operations. Define and carry out optimal rail infrastructure enhancements combining business and technological solutions towards more innovative and performing logistics.
  • Develop smart and integrated high-end automation and information technology software systems for monitor and control logistic operations, up-grading railcar and infrastructure maintenance and reaching high level accuracy in on-time delivery and load capacity. An integral software platform for monitoring and control of smart rail services will be developed and implemented. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) will be developed to analyse the information and to monitor and control the performance of logistics operations. Such indicators will be used to define strategies to improve the logistics performance.
  • Reduction of dwell times by at least 50% by combining the increase of loading/discharge obtained by the optimum wagon design and the developed low friction coating, and the monitoring and control capability of logistics operations by means of the developed smart and integrated software platform. As an example, unloading time for potash in the current IBP facilities is about 6 minutes; the developed wagon is expected to give unloading times in the range of 2-3 minutes. It is a decrease in the dwell time in 50% only in discharging operations.
H2020 Research Programme

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 636520.

Project Coordinator

Dr. Ingrid Picas