Three trains in one, or how to optimise empty wagon transport

The South Central Railway branch of the Indian Railways operated a record-breaking train. By bundling three freight trains together, the operator attempted to optimise the transport of empty wagons to their origin destinations.

‘Trishul’, the name of the 176-wagon freight train, indicates its very nature: three trains operated as one. It was bundled in Vijayawada and travelled for approximately 340 kilometres to Duvvada. The train’s average speed during the trip was 50 kilometres per hour.

The train’s route.

Quick transport for empty wagons

Indian Railways decided to launch such a long train to ensure empty wagons would reach their loading points “in the least possible time”. The transport demand of Indian coal power plants was the main lever behind the move since the scaled-up production requires more loading capacity.

However, as authorities underlined, apart from reducing wagons’ turnaround time, such a solution is also valuable in terms of utilising human resources efficiently and freeing up track space that can be used by other trains.

Gajanan Mallya, general manager of the South Central Railway, underlined that such initiatives are valuable and could be used more frequently in the future. “ Operating long-haul trains will help Indian Railways utilise the rolling stock optimally and transport the bulk commodities in a short timeframe. Running such trains is a win-win situation for both Railways and freight customers”, he concluded.

Not the first time

The Indian Railways have already tried a similar and even more impressive project. In the past, the ‘Vasuki’ train was labelled the longest in the railways’ history. Specifically, for this train, the operator bundled up five freight trains together with a length of 3,5 kilometres. It travelled a shorter distance, though, covering 224 kilometres between Bhilai and Korba.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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