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Loading units

A wide variety of loading units are used for Combined Transport within Europe. Containers and swap bodies are the most commonly used loading units. The demand for cranable semi-trailers is steadily increasing. The Rolling Road, which is heavily used on transalpine services, means that goods vehicles and tractor-trailers can likewise be transported by rail.

The following overview is a systematic classification of the loading units that are designed for cargo handling systems. Simply click on the relevant loading unit for detailed information.

Goods vehicles

Complete goods vehicles can be moved by Combined Transport systems with the kind of low-loader wagons used on the “Rolling Road”. Goods vehicles are suitable for the Rolling Road as long as they comply with the permitted dimensions and weights.


  • Max. length 18.75 m
  • Max. width 2.60 m
  • Max. height 4.00 m, depending on the route
  • Max. total weight 40 t, more for some wagon models

The goods vehicle must meet minimum ground clearance requirements to drive on end-loading ramps. Apart from this, no other rail-specific requirements need to be taken into consideration. The vehicles are not marked with codes.

Tractor-trailer

Complete tractor-trailers can be moved by Combined Transport systems with the kind of low-loader wagons used on the “Rolling Road”. Tractor-trailers are suitable for the Rolling Road as long as they comply with the permitted dimensions and weights.

  • Max. length 16.50 m
  • Max. width 2.60 m
  • Max. height 4.00 m, depending on the route
  • Max. total weight 40 t, more for some wagon models

The tractor-trailer must meet minimum ground clearance requirements to drive on end-loading ramps. Apart from this, no other rail-specific requirements need to be taken into consideration. The vehicles are not marked with codes.

Semi-trailer, non-cranable

Semi-trailers without grappler pockets for cranes are not transported by Combined Transport within Europe. There are only a few trial services designed to try out special wagons with very different loading and unloading systems. It is relatively straightforward to transport normal semi-trailers with low-loader wagons of the kind used on the “Rolling Road”.

Semi-trailer, cranable

The so-called grappler pockets, i.e. the four lifting points on the outer frame of the semi-trailer for the grapplers on the handling equipment, are the trailer’s passport to Combined Transport. They are transported in pocket wagons, which come in a variety of models. The trailer must duly fulfil all technical requirements before being officially approved and coded by the railway.

ISO-compliant container

The ISO container is the best-known and most effective loading unit for worldwide maritime transport and for overland transport. Designed in line with international norms, it has precisely defined external dimensions and top corner fittings for lifting and multiple stacking. Unfortunately, the internal dimensions are too small for europallets. It does not need to be officially approved and coded for rail transport.

UIC-compliant overland container

These are containers of the same length as ISO containers (20’, 30’ and 40’), but they are wider and thus suitable for europallets. When loaded, the containers can usually be stacked in threes. The top corner fittings are recessed into the sidewalls at the same width as ISO corner fittings (2.44 m) in order to fit the spreader guide plates. Official approval is required for rail transport. The containers are marked with UIC codes, although this is not essential.

Overland containers compliant with various norms (ISO, EN, UIC)

The dimensions of these containers comply first and foremost with the lengths and widths permitted for road transport, for example 7.15 m, 7.45 m, 7.82 m and 13.60 m long and 2.55 m to 2.60 m wide. The containers are equipped with fittings on top, although these are not necessarily placed at the corners. They must be officially approved and coded for rail transport.

Flatcontainer

Flat containers are roadworthy superstructures with uniform dimensions and specific features. They can be fitted with hinged fronts and transported in stacks when empty. Units approved for international transport must have a code number plate on each side wall.

EN or UIC-compliant swap body

A swap body in the original sense is a superstructure that can be removed from a lorry and switched from lorry to lorry by using onboard resources (pneumatic shock absorption/lifting gear and support legs). Nowadays, however, the term “swap body” is used for all containers that only have grappler pockets for handling purposes. The standard lengths are 7.45 m, 7.82 m and 13.60 m. Internal heights of up to three metres are possible.

Special containers

Special container systems usually apply to 13.60 m containers to achieve an interior height of three metres. Such containers need special trailer chassis to be transported by road and specially adapted wagons to be transported by rail.

Who to contact
for Equipment Technologies:
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Coding of loading units

You will find some interesting information about the coding of loading units here.

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All about the ILU-Code

This is where you can find out what the ILU-Code actually is, how it is used and where to apply for it.

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