Southern Railway launches India’s first RoadRailer train 

The train on its maiden run carried electrical and electronic goods from Melpakkam goodshed near Arakkonam to Pulwal in Haryana, a distance of 2,200 km.

Published: 26th September 2018 06:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2018 06:02 AM   |  A+A-

The RoadRailer train which commenced its commercial journey from Melpakkam near Arakkonam on Tuesday | Express

Express News Service

CHENNAI: With spiralling fuel prices and high cost of goods transportation, Southern Railway on Tuesday launched commercial operation of India’s first RoadRailer train, a bimodal vehicle which will run as semi-trailer truck on road and as a wagon on rail.

The train on its maiden run carried electrical and electronic goods from Melpakkam goodshed near Arakkonam to Pulwal in Haryana, a distance of 2,200 km. It carried goods in 18 wagons. Thirty-two wagons ran empty. The Railways earned Rs16.88 lakh.

The technologically-upgraded transport system is expected to shift cargo from road to rail. The RoadRailer train will transport the goods to the doorstep of companies passing along rail tracks and roads and reduce the transportation cost, said railway officials.

The bimodal transport vehicle will replace 50 to 55 trucks from the road, reducing the external costs, including loading and unloading of goods, besides providing safety for the goods during transportation, said a senior railway official.

Each RoadRailer unit has eight truck wheels and coupled together with the help of adapter bogies. Each coupling bogie have got four rail wheels.  At the goods terminal, the RoadRailer Units will be delinked with the rail adapter bogies and will be taken to destination after putting behind the prime mover.

Southern Railway recorded freight earnings of `2,739 crore between April 2017 and March 2018. The Railways is planning to increase freight earnings by six to eight per cent this year.

Hitherto, freight loading was done by transporting commodities including coal, raw materials for steel plants, iron and steel, iron ore, cement and gypsum. “However, the RoadRailer is designed to carry automobile components, electrical and electronic goods, furniture and hardware,” added railway officials.
A railway official said the carrying capacity of each wagon (also known as RRU) is about 30  tonnes and up to 50 wagons can be operated per  trip.  

In 2011, Kirloskar Pneumatic Co Ltd had entered into an agreement with Indian Railways to operate RoadRailer. It manufactured 100 RoadRailer Units and 20 rail bogie adapters.

Though the project started in 2015, it faced inordinate delay due to the ambiguity in finalising under which category the semi trailer is to be registered with State transport department. In  August 2017, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (1989) to enable all trailers and semi trailer vehicles to be registered independently. Subsequently, the State granted a permission to operate the bimodal vehicle.

New technology

  • Each RoadRailer Unit (RRU) has eight truck wheels on tandem axle and four rail wheels
  • Semi-trailers are coupled together using rail adapter bogies to create RoadRailer Unit
  • Two rakes of RoadRailer Units each comprising 50 wagons have been manufactured
  • Two rakes to be operated between Melpakkam near Arakkonam and Pulwal in Haryana
  • On reaching the terminal, the bogies will be de-coupled from the RRU’s and the body will be linked with truck
  • The bimodal vehicle cleared for operation up to 100 km per hour
  • Maximum number of coaches permitted is 50 per trip and length of the train should be 632.5 metres
  • RRU train would replace 50 trucks on the road
  • RRU will be used for transporting automobiles and components, electrical and electronic goods
  • The project started in 2015, but it faced inordinate delay due to ambiguity on registration

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