Gondola (rail)

Gondola (rail)

Overview

In railroad terminology, a gondola is an open-top type of rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

 that is used for carrying loose bulk materials. Because of its low side walls, gondolas are used to carry either very dense material, such as steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 plates or coils, or bulky items such as prefabricated pieces of rail track.

Before the opening of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), considerable amounts of coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 were carried via the Potomac River.
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Encyclopedia

In railroad terminology, a gondola is an open-top type of rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

 that is used for carrying loose bulk materials. Because of its low side walls, gondolas are used to carry either very dense material, such as steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 plates or coils, or bulky items such as prefabricated pieces of rail track.

History


Before the opening of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), considerable amounts of coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 were carried via the Potomac River. Since timber was an abundant resource, flat boats, called "gondolas" (a spoof on Venetian rowing boats), were constructed to navigate the "black diamonds" down river to markets around Washington, DC. There, both the boat and cargo were sold and the boatmen returned home by foot. The railroad cars first employed in the haulage of coal were thus named after these shallow-draft boats called "gondola cars".

Early gondola cars typically had low sides. Their contents had to be shoveled out by hand, and they took a long time to unload. In 1905, the Ralston Steel Car Company
Ralston Steel Car Company
The Ralston Steel Car Company operated in Columbus, Ohio, from 1905-1953. The company began by modifying wood freight cars to add steel underframes. Later it manufactured its own line of all-steel rail cars.- Founding :...

 patented a flat bottom gondola with lever operated chutes that allowed the gondola to be unloaded automatically from the bottom. The chutes would direct the contents of the gondola to the sides. This coincided with the switch from wood to steel freight cars, as the pulling force of locomotives tended to crush the older wood cars.

Chaldrons



The first railway bulk-cargo gondolas, indeed the first freight wagons, were the chaldron
Chaldron
A chaldron was a dry English measure of volume, mostly used for coal; the word itself is an obsolete spelling of cauldron...

 cars of the early coal-carrying plateways. These were relatively short and tall in proportion, with a tapered body that widened upwards, above the wheels. Once locomotive haulage began, the unstable and top-heavy nature of this design became a problem with increasing speeds and later wagons became lower and longer. The chaldron shape survived in a few cases, such as low-speed working around a large factory site, such as a steelworks.

"Bathtub" gondolas



In the second half of the 20th century, coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 haulage shifted from open hopper car
Hopper car
A hopper car is a type of railroad freight car used to transport loose bulk commodities such as coal, ore, grain, track ballast, and the like. The name originated from the coke manufacturing industry which is part of the steel industry ....

s to high-sided gondolas. Using a gondola, the railroads are able to haul a larger amount of coal per car since gondolas do not include the equipment needed for unloading. However, since these cars do not have hatches for unloading the products shipped in them, railroads must use rotary car dumper
Rotary car dumper
A rotary car dumper or wagon tippler is a mechanism used for unloading certain railroad cars such as hopper cars, gondolas or lorries . It holds the rail car to a section of track and rotates the track and car together to dump out the contents. Used with gondola cars, it is making open hopper cars...

s (mechanisms that hold a car against a short section of track as the car and track are slowly rotated upside down to empty the car) or other means to empty them. The term "bathtub" refers to the shape of the car.

Coil car



Coil cars (also referred to as "steel coil cars" or "coil steel cars") are a specialized type of rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

 designed for the transport of coils (i.e., rolls) of sheet metal
Sheet metal
Sheet metal is simply metal formed into thin and flat pieces. It is one of the fundamental forms used in metalworking, and can be cut and bent into a variety of different shapes. Countless everyday objects are constructed of the material...

, particularly steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

. They are considered a subtype of the gondola car, though they bear little resemblance to a typical gondola.

Container well cars



Specialized cars designed to carry intermodal container
Intermodal container
An intermodal container is a standardized reusable steel box used for the safe, efficient and secure storage and movement of materials and products within a global containerized intermodal freight transport system...

s (shipping containers) resemble traditional gondolas, although their floors are usually partially open. A depressed center section provides a floor which is only inches above the rails. This stabilizes the container by lowering the center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

, it also allows double-stacking on those lines where the structure gauge
Structure gauge
The structure gauge, also called the minimum clearance outline, is the minimum height and width of tunnels and bridges as well as the minimum height and width of the doors that allow a rail siding access into a warehouse...

 is sufficiently high. It is always impossible to double-stack on regular flatcar
Flatcar
A flatcar is a piece of railroad or railway rolling stock that consists of an open, flat deck on four or six wheels or a pair of trucks or bogies . The deck of the car can be wood or steel, and the sides of the deck can include pockets for stakes or tie-down points to secure loads...

s because there exists no structure gauge
Structure gauge
The structure gauge, also called the minimum clearance outline, is the minimum height and width of tunnels and bridges as well as the minimum height and width of the doors that allow a rail siding access into a warehouse...

 which would allow that. It is also used to transport shipping containers single-stacked on those lines with an insufficiently high structure gauge. Single-unit well cars exist, but 3- and 5-car articulated sets are common. These reduce weight by reducing the number of trucks
Bogie
A bogie is a wheeled wagon or trolley. In mechanics terms, a bogie is a chassis or framework carrying wheels, attached to a vehicle. It can be fixed in place, as on a cargo truck, mounted on a swivel, as on a railway carriage/car or locomotive, or sprung as in the suspension of a caterpillar...

 by nearly half, and also reduce the amount of slack in the train since there are fewer couplers. This protects the cargo by reducing the jolts that occur at starting and stopping caused by slack.

Lorry or Mine car



An open railroad car (gondola) with a tipping trough, often found in mines
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

. Known in the UK as a tippler or chaldron wagon. Known in the USA as a mine car.

Modalohr road trailer carriers



Modalohrs are specialized railroad cars for carrying road trailers
Semi-trailer
A semi-trailer is a trailer without a front axle. A large proportion of its weight is supported by a road tractor, a detachable front axle assembly known as a dolly, or the tail of another trailer...

 and road tractors on a route from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 to Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and vice versa; there are plans to expand this service. A deck between the bogie
Bogie
A bogie is a wheeled wagon or trolley. In mechanics terms, a bogie is a chassis or framework carrying wheels, attached to a vehicle. It can be fixed in place, as on a cargo truck, mounted on a swivel, as on a railway carriage/car or locomotive, or sprung as in the suspension of a caterpillar...

s (trucks) pivots
Rotation
A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center of rotation. A three-dimensional object rotates always around an imaginary line called a rotation axis. If the axis is within the body, and passes through its center of mass the body is said to rotate upon itself, or spin. A rotation...

 (swings) 30°, allowing the trailers to be loaded from the sides. For details see the official sites or. The cars are built by Lohr Industrie
Lohr Industrie
Lohr Industrie is a French manufacturer. With a track record in the manufacture of high-tech car transporter systems , this innovative manufacturer has developed the Translohr tram cars and Modalohr road/rail transfer system, and, in cooperation with GIAT Industries, the Caesar 155 mm...

.

Track ballast gondolas



Track ballast gondolas carry ballast
Track ballast
Track ballast forms the trackbed upon which railway sleepers or railroad ties are laid. It is packed between, below, and around the ties. It is used to facilitate drainage of water, to distribute the load from the railroad ties, and also to keep down vegetation that might interfere with the track...

.

See also


  • Coil car (rail)
    Coil car (rail)
    Coil cars are a specialized type of rolling stock designed for the transport of coils of sheet metal, particularly steel...

  • Containerization
    Containerization
    Containerization is a system of freight transport based on a range of steel intermodal containers...

  • Hopper car
    Hopper car
    A hopper car is a type of railroad freight car used to transport loose bulk commodities such as coal, ore, grain, track ballast, and the like. The name originated from the coke manufacturing industry which is part of the steel industry ....


  • Intermodal container
    Intermodal container
    An intermodal container is a standardized reusable steel box used for the safe, efficient and secure storage and movement of materials and products within a global containerized intermodal freight transport system...

  • Open wagon
    Open wagon
    Open wagons form a large group of railway goods wagons designed primarily for the transportation of bulk goods that are not moisture-retentive and can usually be tipped, dumped or shovelled. The International Union of Railways distinguishes between ordinary wagons and special wagons...


  • Railgon Company
    Railgon Company
    The Railgon Company owned railroad gondola cars available for use by multiple railroads by placing the cars in a cooperative pool.Due to routing arrangements and track usage agreements, gondola cars and other rolling stock are often used to transport goods on more than one railroad before reaching...

  • Railroad car
    Railroad car
    A railroad car or railway vehicle , also known as a bogie in Indian English, is a vehicle on a rail transport system that is used for the carrying of cargo or passengers. Cars can be coupled together into a train and hauled by one or more locomotives...



External links