India's first cargo-passenger coach to be rolled out soon

Sources said that once these coaches pass the trial phase, they will be manufactured in line with the Railways’ proposal to come up with two such trains with 20 coaches each.
Image of a railway coach built under the belly freight concept, used for representative purposes only. (Photo | Railways)
Image of a railway coach built under the belly freight concept, used for representative purposes only. (Photo | Railways)

CHANDIGARH:  In a first in the country, the Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala has designed a double-decker coach for the Indian railways along the lines of the belly freight concept which would be rolled out in August.  Sources said that the coach will have 46 seats on the executive upper deck which would have a pantry and toilets while the lower deck will be able to store up to six tonnes of cargo.

The concept was designed during the Covid pandemic when passenger movement was low and the Railways earned revenue mainly from cargo transportation. “Two to three designs were made but the Railway Board approved this design,’’ said a senior officer of the RCF on the condition of anonymity.  “We are yet to work out the price modalities but each coach is expected to cost in the range of Rs 2.70 to Rs 3 crore,” he disclosed.

“The belly freight concept is widely used in airplanes for transportation of cargo. The goods are transported in the lower deck of the passenger aircraft while passengers occupy the upper deck. May airlines combine cargo with passenger traffic to reach a better occupancy rate of space available on a flight. We used this concept in designing this coach,” he said.

Talking to this newspaper, Ashesh Agrawal, general manager, RCF, Kapurthala said, “We are making the first cargo liner in the country which will most probably be rolled out in August. It will allow the transportation of six tons of cargo on the lower deck while 46 passengers will be able to occupy the upper deck. It is a unique design and will be fully air-conditioned.”

“We expect that the prototype coach will be ready by next month and then it will send for trial to the Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO), a research and development organization under the Ministry of Railways. Once the trial is successful, more coaches will be manufactured and rolled out by us on the concept of cargo liners,’’ he added.

Sources said that once these coaches pass the trial phase, they will be manufactured in line with the Railways’ proposal to come up with two such trains with 20 coaches each. These trains will be rolled out based on the concept of cargo liners and will run regularly as scheduled service on a  fixed route between designated points while carrying consignments of various commodities.

During the financial year 2022-23, the Railways’ freight revenue leapfrogged to Rs 1.62 lakh crore, a growth of nearly 15 per cent over the previous year. It is learnt that the RCF, Kapurthala would also manufacture 16 coaches of the Vande Bharat train in the current financial year.

What is belly cargo concept?

Belly cargo is freight that is stored under the main deck of an airplane. Sometimes it can also refer to freight that is being shipped by a vessel that is stored in the holds of the ship.

When is shipping via belly freight a suitable option?

The nature of the goods and the consignment’s weight and measurements are key parameters. Tech preconditions of the aircraft are limitations for both – for example, the height of a passenger aircraft’s lower deck limits the maximum height of cargo pieces.

Other limitations

Security standards and security checks in passenger aviation are higher than for cargo-only aviation. That includes limitations as to which types of substances are allowed on the aircraft

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The New Indian Express
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