Indian Railways, probably the only one that runs heavy-haul trains on tracks that also move passenger trains, plan to more than double the number of such freight trains next year.

In India, freight trains usually carry about 60 wagons, with 4,000 tonnes of cargo a train.

At present, Indian Railways run about 24 heavy-haul trains a day. Each of these trains carries about 120 wagons or over 8,000 tonnes. These are pulled by two locomotives, depending on the geography and the load being moved.

Next fiscal, the Railways want to improve the infrastructure to be able to run 72 such trains a day. “There was a time earlier this year when the Railways ran about 36 such trains a day,” said a source.

To be able to do this, the Railways plan to build 49 new longer loops on identified tracks, which are more like rail tracks that act as bypasses for goods trains at railway stations. “To be able to accommodate longer trains, we require longer loops, with length of 1,500 m,” said the source.

At railway stations, freight trains get on to the loop and free the station and tracks for passenger trains. This is required because passenger trains get higher priority on the Indian Railways tracks, though the passenger segment contributes only about 30 per cent of the total revenue.

The Indian Railways use such long trains to move coal, iron ore, foodgrains, fertiliser and containers, which help increase the throughput by about 7.5 per cent on the infrastructure.

(This article was published on February 5, 2013)
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