Container wagons weigh 20.5 tonnes and are commonly used on railways at speeds up to 120 km/h. Because containers are designed to be lifted and transferred between different modes of transport, they have a maximum weight of 32 tonnes. The axle load split between 4 axles is 13.1 tonnes and the maximum permissible weight per metre is 2.8 tonnes. A train weight of 2,000 tonnes would allow 38 containers to be hauled, giving a train length of 730 meters. While new container wagons may be operated up to 160 km/h, they will soon be able to operate at 200 km/h.
When containers are loaded onto high-speed trains, the speed is the same as for passenger trains, i.e. 400 km/h, and today high-speed trains hauling freight regularly operate at 350 km/h. Trials are in progress with containers on open wagons at 200 km/h, the speed conventional trains will be allowed to operate at on the Skagerrak Line. This is possible because the average speed for trains that stop at intermediate stations is 180 km/h, the speed at which container wagons can operate without causing capacity problems.
Permissible load profile for rolling stock operating on railways is defined by Swedish Transport Agency infrastructure compatibility regulations. The biggest profiles include the Swedish load profile at C 1,800 mm from track centre and the European load profiles GA, GB and GC at 1,645 mm from track centre, as illustrated below. The figure shows there to be space for a container inside the load profile used for conventional railways and that there is space enough to place the load on a flatbed wagon.
A high-speed train’s vehicle profile must fit inside the railway’s load profile, which is 1,645 mm from track centre for the GA, GB and GC profiles, which equates to a cross-sectional profile of 3,290 mm. Swedish load profiles A and B are wider at 1,700 mm, which equates to a cross-sectional profile of 3,400 mm, while several trunk lines have the larger C load profile at 1,800 mm, with a cross-sectional profile of 3,600 mm. Load profile C applies to the route Surte–Gothenburg–Malmö.