Indian Railways is the fourth largest railway network in the world. So it is huge! The rail system in India was established in 1853 when the first passenger train took about 400 passengers on a 1.6-kilometre journey from Mumbai to Thane. Then in 1895, India started building its own locomotives. Gradually steam locomotives were abandoned and electric locomotives were used everywhere. After India got independence in 1947, the Indian Railways saw a boom in all its sectors. Modernization of trains was being carried out. In 1982, Mumbai set up the first manual enquiry system to provide information on train schedules, a simple manual system that has now been revolutionized by technology. These are some of the milestones reached by the Indian Railways in its long history of 167 years.
Today Indian Railways has a large network of trains consisting of passenger, freight, tourist, suburban, toy trains, and luxury trains. Let’s see some interesting and unknown facts about Indian Railways goods transport. It is also called the freight service of Indian Railways.
- Indian Railways operates more than 9,200 trains a day and transported 1,110 million tons of freight during the fiscal year.
- IR freight transport carries all sorts of goods, including parcel traffic and small consignments, agricultural products, raw materials such as iron ore and petroleum and finished goods such as automobiles.
- With a route length of 1.5 km, a width of 3660mm, and a clearance height of 7.1m, Indian Railways has made a world record.
- High-capacity parcel vans also commonly known as Green Parcel Vans have been used in rakes designed to transport fruit and vegetables for special purposes. The high-capacity parcel van carries 23 t against the regular parcel van carrying 18 t of goods.
- IR has various rate scale for freight tariff. Scale R or Rajdhani Parcel Service refers to packages applicable for the Rajdhani Express trains, thus ensuring that all IR services are delivered as quickly as possible. Level P (Premium Parcel Service) refers to parcels borne on all Shatabdi Express trains, on certain other Mail / Express trains and on all Special Parcel trains (including Green Parcel vans, Blue Parcel Service, etc.). To all parcels borne on other passenger trains, Scale S (Standard Parcel Service) applies. There was also a Scale E (Economy Parcel Service) which applied to parcels transported on ordinary passenger trains, but that has been abolished and the category has been merged with Scale P.
- Vembanad Rail Bridge is India’s longest railway bridge with a length of 4.62 km and is dedicated to freight only.
- The rakes are given names in alphabetic sequence beginning with a name that begins with an ‘A’ after 0100 hrs for the first formation out of a marshalling yard, along with a number. This classification can change if the rake is broken up and regrouped at a different yard. Some example names of freight trains are ‘Ahmedabad 10,’ ‘Bombay 21,’ or ‘India 38.’ There is no use of the letters ‘J’ and ‘U’ so 24 letters are available, one for every hour of the day. The number following the alphabetical part of the name shows when the train left the yard (minutes past the top of the hour); e.g., ‘India 38’ is a freight train leaving the yard at 0938 hours.
- Indian freight service house 800 12,000 HP electric locomotives which are the largest in the world. Konkan Railway is India’s only railway zone providing RoRo services, along with some of the other technologies such as Sky Bus and anti-collision equipment.
- Most rail container traffic in India is managed by CONCOR or the Container Corporation of India. It was the only such organisation, until recently. CONCOR is a public-sector company, but it maintains its own fleet of wagons and other properties which are different from IR’s, even though traffic moves on IR’s tracks.
- Boxtrans Logistics, a member of the JM Baxi Group, became the first private player to operate container services in April 2007, with a rake of 45 flat Texmaco wagons operating between Cossipore (ER) and Loni near New Delhi and Mundra port (Gujarat).
- High-speed freight transportation service was recently inaugurated. It is popularly called as CONTRACK and is a weekly train scheduled between Shalimar Terminal and Tondiarpet (Chennai). CARTRAC is the name given to the car transport service at CONCOR. It uses converted passenger coaches to carry two decks of automobiles. A standard CARTRAC rake has around 21 coaches of this nature updated.
- The Dedicated Freight Corridor is a network specifically for carrying freight separated from regular Indian Railways traffic and passenger trains. Planning began in 2006, conceived in 2004-2005, and initial plans were drawn up in 2007. The entire DFC network will comprise approximately 2,700 km of exclusive freight lines (new construction) and approximately 5,000 km of feeder lines that will include some new construction and several existing upgraded lines.
- Freight trains run daily via the Attari (Punjab)-Lahore road, between India and Pakistan. The Munabao-Khokhrapar route (currently only used for the Thar Express passenger traffic) is under consideration for goods traffic. Freight trains also run regularly between India and Bangladesh on the routes to Gede-Darshana and Petrapole-Benapole.
- The 4700 + ton loads hauled by two (sometimes one, depending on the gradient, etc.) WAG-9 locomotives in the Dhanbad Division are among the heaviest freights regularly hauled in India.
- A Wabash / Kirloskar road railer trial currently runs between Konkan Railway (or JNPT) and Nagpur. Konkan Railway also did several TOFC (trailer on flat car) trials. Intermodal cars are in quite a bit of demand. They are fitted with 6 trucks for 5 cars but double-stacking is not used because the cars’ floor height is typically the same as for standard COFC (container on flat car) services.
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