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Indian Railway launches its first aluminium freight rake, plans to deploy over one lakh such made-in-India wagons

Aluminium wagons are lighter and therefore consume less fuel, they can carry more material due to reduced weight, and they last longer and need less maintenance.

On 16th October 2022, Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw inaugurated India’s first aluminium freight rake at Bhubaneswar railway station. The First Aluminum Freight Rake – 61 BOBRNALHSM1, was flagged off by the minister and the rake’s destination is Bilaspur. The rake is a dedicated effort for the Make in India program as it has been fully designed and developed indigenously in collaboration with RDSO, HINDALCO, and Besco Wagon.

Aluminium rakes are a major improvement over steel rakes as they have several advantages, they are lighter and therefore consume less fuel, they can carry more material due to reduced weight, and they last longer and need less maintenance.

The official statement of Hindalco stated that the aluminium rakes have been developed with the aim to modernize freight transportation and enable large carbon savings for Indian Railways. It further mentions that these rakes are 180 tonnes lighter than existing steel rakes, can carry 5-10% more payload, and consume less energy with relatively negligible wear and tear to rolling stock and rails.

The wagons are fully lockbolted construction with no welding on the superstructure, and its payload to tare ratio is 2.85, higher than steel wagons. According to the ministry, the reduced tare will reduce carbon footprint as lower consumption of fuel in empty direction and more transport of freight in the loaded condition. A single rake can save over 14,500 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime. Moreover, as aluminium does not degrade like steel, the resale value of rakes is 80%. Moreover, due to the higher corrosion and abrasion resistance of the metal, the maintenance cost of the rakes will be lower. However, the cost will be 35% higher as aluminium is costlier than steel and the entire superstructure is all aluminium.

The ministry further said that the iron industry consumes a lot of Nickel and Cadmium which comes from import. Therefore, the use of Aluminum wagons will result in less import of these materials. At the same time, this is good for the local aluminium industry.

“These wagons save 14,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions, have more carrying capacity, consume less energy and are corrosion-resistant. They are 100% recyclable and even after 30 years, they will be as good as new. These aluminium wagons will enable us to achieve our climate goals,” Minister Vaishnaw said. For every 100 kg weight reduction of the wagon, the lifetime CO2 saving is 8-10 tonnes. This translates to a saving of more than 14,500 tonnes of CO2 for a single rake.

A 61-wagon rake was launched by Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw at the Bhubaneswar station. These wagons will transport coal to the Lapanga, Odisha-based Aditya Smelter of Hindalco. The wagons are specially designed to carry coal with a bottom discharge facility.

The Railways is planning to add over one lakh aluminium wagons to its freight trains in the coming years, and therefore it will lead to a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions. If 15-20% of freight trains are replaced with aluminium rakes, the annual CO2 reduction would be around 25 lakh tonnes.

The aluminium rakes are manufactured by BESCO based on an RDSO-approved design, and they are made from high-strength aluminium alloy plates and extrusions. The alloy is made in India at Hindalco’s rolling facility in Hirakud in Odisha, and the extrusions are made at the company’s Renukoot plant in UP.

Apart from freight trains, Indian Railways is also introducing aluminium passenger coaches in near future. The Railways have already announced plans to make new Vande Bharat train sets with aluminium bodies. Hindalco is reportedly planning to participate in the manufacturing of aluminium coaches for high-speed passenger trains.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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