The Indian Railways has introduced heavy haul goods trains, where a single loco-pilot can operate three engines at the same time using remote technology, in a bid to modernise the network.
One of the largest beneficiaries of the development will be the power sector. Each of the heavy haul trains is expected to carry more than twice the quantity of coal at a speed that is approximately 40 per cent faster.
In the first phase, 25 heavy haul trains have been introduced by joining two goods trains and attaching three engines to them — one each at both ends and one in the middle. As opposed to the usual 58-wagon trains, one heavy haul train now carries around 118 wagons. Trials are on to join three goods trains to make one train with approximately 180 wagons that can be driven by a single loco-pilot.
Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is expected to announce the elaborate roll-out plan in the Rail Budget this month. “The aim is to eventually reach figures upward of 200 wagons per train,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.
Trains with more than 200 wagons can carry loads up to 32,000 tonnes, whereas Indian heavy haul trains currently carry about 14,000 tonnes.
India is also conducting trials to produce “Locotrol technology” indigenously. The technology uses radio-frequency similar to a remote control to help a single loco-pilot operate three engines simultaneously. To accommodate such long trains, 1.5-km long loop lines are to be constructed this year, sources said. The Rail Budget may provide approval for 50 such loops.