Technical Tests for Blade Transport by Rail

Blade Transloading Test on a Modified Rail Car

Thanks to the collaboration of several partners, including the ACCORD Wind Energy Cluster and the Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation, and Exports (MDEIE), the Société de chemin de fer de la Gaspésie conducted an engineering test of a wind turbine blade on the sidelines of the Quebec Wind Energy Conference held in Carleton-sur-Mer in June 2012.

To do so, a blade was first transported by truck to the tracks of the Fabrication Delta factory in New Richmond. From there, a transloading test was performed from truck to rail car. The blade, secured using the “stack and pack” system developed by the engineers of LM Windpower, was easily transferred to the rail car using two cranes. It should be noted that the rail car used had been modified by New Richmond-based company Gaspésie Diesel. The transload was achieved without issue in 40 minutes. The study concludes that the time of this operation could be reduced to about 30 minutes.

Video of the transload test


Verification of Clearances of the Port-Daniel Tunnel

A verification of clearances for transporting blades through the Port-Daniel tunnel was conducted on June 24, 2012. This tunnel is considered to be a sensitive spot due to the limited clearance between the rail and the walls of the tunnel. The tunnel test was a success.

Video of the tunnel clearance test

This rail transport exercise also allowed for a vibration analysis to be carried out. The analysis concluded that, in terms of vibrations generated, no significant difference exists between loading and unloading operations, road transport, and rail transport.

State of Affairs

Transporting blades by rail offers the advantage of being more economical, since fewer personnel (e.g. drivers and road escorts) need to be deployed. Further, it is not as heavily affected by external variables such as road construction and traffic. And it is safe and competitive with road transport for large volumes despite the need for additional handling.

However, as the section of rail between New Carlisle and Gaspé is paralyzed due to significant repairs required on a large number of bridges, the Société de chemin de fer de la Gaspésie was unable to further pursue this initiative. The company is nevertheless hopeful that it will be able to ship blades by rail in the near future.