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Railways mulls triple stack containers

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Aims at reducing the unit cost of transportation

A FILE PHOTO of the double stack containers train.
A FILE PHOTO of the double stack containers train.

Mamuni Das

New Delhi, Sep 5

The Railways is considering a proposal that envisages moving smaller sized containers on trains on domestic routes.

The proposal essentially aims at reducing the unit cost of transportation by permitting higher volumes of relatively lightweight and high value cargo in each rake.

Each rake can accommodate larger volumes of cargo since it can accommodate higher number of lower sized containers.

However, this could be implemented in the domestic sector movements only, as, for international trade, there are standard container sizes.

Proposed size

By decreasing the height of containers to 6.5x40 feet against the present ISO standards of 8.5x40 feet and 9.5x40 feet, triple stack containers (of the proposed size) can be moved on the present identified double stack, diesel routes of the Railways and double stack containers (of the proposed size) can be moved even on the electrified routes.

"If accepted, these containers would be well suited for moving voluminous and high value cargo such as cars, automobile parts, electronics and electrical components, readymade garments, tea, medicinal items, spices, plastic goods, jute, leather goods, de-oiled cakes and paper," said Mr Naresh Kumar, Vice-President (Technical), Pipavav Rail Corporation Ltd.

Mr Kumar has proposed the concept to the Railways.

When contacted, the Railway Ministry officials said they are studying the proposal.

Use of these 6.5x40 feet containers would improve capacity by about 154 per cent per train compared to the standard use of single stack containers, Mr Kumar said. Even the under electric wire double stack movements of the proposed lower sized containers would improve the capacity by about 69 per cent when compared to the standard single stack container movements, he said.

While a rake moving single stack containers can carry 80 standard height ( 20-feet equivalent unit) containers, a proposed triple stack rake can accommodate 138 low-height containers and a double stack rake can accommodate 92 low-height containers.

Speaking specifically of the car segment, Mr Kumar said that in a rake carrying triple stack containers, 450 units of cars could be moved, where each standardised unit is the space required by a Maruti 800 car. Currently, the Railways uses special kind of coaches to move cars, with each rake able to accommodate only 100 units of cars.

By moving more containers per rake, this concept would also help save fuel, he pointed out.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 6, 2006)
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