NEW DELHI: Commercial run of dwarf containers on trains is likely to take off with the Railways set to finalise freight charges for them soon. These containers are shorter in size and enable double-stack movement.
“These containers — which can run in double stack mode under the electrical wires of the Railways — have over 65 more capacity in terms of volumes and 16 per cent more cargo loading capacity compared to the ISO containers used in rail space (traditional containers),” Naresh Kumar, a former Indian Railways official, who has designed, developed and got the dwarf containers certified, said recently.
The trial run of the dwarf containers was done by Pristine Logistics. The company had acquired the container train operating licence from Reliance Infrastructure, and had moved cargo from Jamnagar refinery of Reliance Industries Ltd. RIL had sought appropriately priced container train charges offering to provide additional two million tonnes of annual cargo.
“The dwarf containers have been certified — for security and carrying capacity — by Lloyd's Register, one of the classification societies of ISO,” Kumar said. Lloyd’s Register is headquartered in China, with offices in India.
The dwarf containers are expected to move two million tonnes of cargo every year, said Kumar. The two million tonnes additional movement is about 25 per cent extra loading over the nine million tonnes of cargo loading done by the Railways in the domestic circuit in 2016-17.
Kumar believes the dwarf containers have the potential to divert 40-50 million tonnes of cargo from road to the Railways, as it will substantially lower the unit costs, making rail transportation cheaper than on road. The containers can run in a double-stack form across the Indian Railways network including the electrified network, says Kumar, adding that his dream is to make these containers a standard equipment for domestic use.
After the concept trials between Jamnagar and Ludhiana, confirmatory trials were done in early March by Pristine Logistics between Ambala and Jamnagar. Dwarf containers are likely to attract customers from house-hold appliances, clinkers, stone chips, textile products, solid and liquid petrochemicals sectors.
Double-stack dwarf containers are 6 feet 4 inches in height and designed to run under wire for maximum throughput with increased loadability. The Railways limits the movement of double-stacked containers — ISO’s conventional containers, which have a height of 8.5 feet and 9.5 feet — on electrified section. All important routes of the Indian Railways are electrified. A single-stack ISO 40 feet container can load up to 32 tonnes which can be increased to around 54 tonnes in double-stack dwarf containers on electrified sections. A preliminary trial run of double-stack dwarf containers was undertaken in January.
After removing the infrastructure constraints, a confirmatory trial run was conducted between Ambala and Jamnagar (with run from Ambala to Ludhiana done under wire) after which commercial runs will be started, the Railways had said two months ago.