Apparently facilitating the announcement of new mail and express trains in the forthcoming Railway Budget, Railways have worked out a blueprint for more and heavier haul freight trains based on latest technology without incurring additional cost.

At a seminar on heavy haul operations here , Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has hinted in this direction by underlining for capacity building in the freight sector in the interest of the economy and reducing the cost of transportation.

As the proposed dedicated freight corridors are still a few years away, Railways have decided to generate capacity using the present infrastructure — wagon, tracks and locomotive — with the introduction of technology.

The general norm is to haul 60 wagons with two locos but the stress is to match international standards of drawing heavier loads as in South Africa where 224 wagons are pulled with the help of multiple locomotives transporting 32,000 tonne.

India has progressed in this direction pulling 116 wagons carrying a load of 10,200 tonnes with the help of three locos thereby saving on time and ensuring faster delivery of goods and commodities besides decongesting traffic to the benefit of passenger trains. But only 25 such 1.5-km long heavy haul freight trains operate on a daily basis in view of operational difficulties.

The added benefit is that it has increased the speed of such freight trains to 39 km per hour as against the usual 24 km per hour. Next year, the objective is to increase it to 70 with the induction of distributed power supply system (DPSS) which will allow the driver to command the other locos attached to the heavy haul goods train through remote control based on radio frequency.

This will not only reduce the number of drivers but also ensure efficient running of trains as all the engines will operate simultaneously be it when starting them or bringing them to a halt, which is not the case now, causing some consternation at times.

Railways are operating three such trains at the moment on a pilot basis though each loco is manned by a driver till the desired art of putting them at the command of a single driver is perfected.

To remove the other constraint of parking such long heavy haul trains on the loop line when not on the tracks, Railways have decided to extend the loop lines to the required 1.5-km length.