Indian Railways launches innovative, homemade aluminium freight rake

Inauguration of first Indian aluminium freight rake. Hindalco

Besco Limited Wagon Division, an Indian wagon manufacturer, collaborated with Hindalco, an Indian aluminium manufacturer, to build a new type of train rake. It is the first indigenously manufactured aluminium rake for Indian Railways freight trains. Weighing 180 tonnes less than common ones, the brand-new rakes will allow for increased speed, heavier cargo, and lower power consumption.

The aluminium rake train already runs since it departed on Sunday, 16 October, from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha state, in the east of the country. Indian Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw flagged off the inaugural trip. The first convoy, equipped with a new 61-wagon rake, was loaded with coal to be transported to Hindalco’s aluminium facility in Lapanga, near the Hirakud Reservoir lake.

The wagons were manufactured with high-strength aluminium alloy plates at Hindalco’s facility in Hirakud, roughly 300 kilometres from Bhubaneswar. Thanks to the use of aluminium instead of steel, the wagons are corrosion-resistant, a feature that will save time and resources for maintenance.

Hindalco’s aluminium freight rake. Image: Hindalco.

Indian Railways and Hindalco’s ambitious project

Despite being 35 per cent more expensive to build than common rakes, aluminium wagons are expected to last around ten years longer than steel ones and to maintain a higher resale value. Thanks to the new rake, moreover, it will be possible to carry 180 tonnes more cargo. This project should also help India decrease the imports of nickel and cadmium in favour of the domestic aluminium industry.

Indian Railways and Hindalco have big ambitions when it comes to aluminium wagons. As Hindalco claimed in a press release, the two companies are planning a 15-20 per cent shift to aluminium wagons. Considering that Indian Railways wants to deploy roughly 100,000 wagons over the next few years, the implementation of aluminium wagons would significantly help the country to achieve its climate goals.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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