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India’s first road-railer train gets Union Ministry nod

Date : March 28, 2018

publication : The Indian Express

Author: B Anbuselvan


A semi-trailer on the road and a wagon on rail, the cargo shipment vehicle can replace 50-55 lorries on road, reducing costs drastically

CHENNAI: Cargo transportation in the country is all set to witness a technological upgrade with the Southern Railway set to launch a road-railer train, which will transport goods to the doorstep of companies passing through rail tracks and roads.The road-railer train, India’s first bi-model goods vehicle, has received approval from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for registering the vehicle with the state transport department. The road-railer unit (RRU), which will run as a semi-trailer lorry on road and as a wagon on rail, is aimed at shifting the cargo transport from road to rail, said officials.

Each road-railer unit has eight lorry wheels and is coupled together with the help of adopter bogies. Each coupling bogie has got four rail wheels.  The capacity of each wagon (also called RRU)  is about 30  tons and upto 50 wagons can be operated for a trip. 

At the goods terminal, the road-railer units will be delinked from the rail adopter bogies and will be taken to destination after putting behind the prime mover. The road-railer will replace 50 to 55 lorries on road, reducing the external costs like loading and unloading of goods, besides providing safety from getting damaged during transportation. In 2011, Kirloskar Pneumatic Co Ltd, an engineering equipment manufacturing company, had an agreement with the Indian Railways to operate road-railer to transport cargo between Melpakkam near Arakkonam and Palwal in Haryana. It manufactured 100 units and 20 bogie adopters at Nasik in Mumbai.

The railways will collect Rs 22 lakh for freight transportation charges a trip from Melpakkam to Palwal covering 2,200-km distance. The transport vehicle will be used for transporting automobiles and components, electrical and electronic goods, FMCG, retail, furniture, hardware and parcel services.

In 2017, the Southern Railway conducted a trial run of road-railer train between Jolarpet and Arakkonam.

Though the project was kicked-started in 2015, it faced an inordinate delay due to the ambiguity in finalising under which category the semi-trailer can be registered with the state transport department.

In August 2017, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways informed the Railway Board that it had amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (1989) to enable all trailers and semi-trailer vehicles to get registered independently. “The amendment would facilitate use of any suitable prime mover to haul the semi-trailer,” said the communication. A senior official from the Southern Railway said they were awaiting nod from the state transport department to register the vehicle.

Short points

  • Road-railer unit will act as semi-trailer on road and as a wagon on rail.
  • Each unit has eight truck wheels on tandem axle and four rail wheels.
  • The semi- trailers are coupled together using rail adaptor bogies and create road-railer unit.
  • Two rakes of road-railer units manufactured.
  • The distance between two road-railer units will be 15 cm.
  • The bimodel vehicle is cleared for operation upto 100 km.
  • Maximum number of coaches permitted is 50 a trip and length of the train should be 632.5 m.
  • Railways will earn Rs 22 lakh per trip.
  • The Southern Railway transports 3 crore tons of cargo and its turnover remains at Rs 2500 crore a year.