Infrastructure development is a critical enabler to achieve rapid as well as sustainable growth. US President John F Kennedy had once emphasised the significance of Infrastructure connectivity. He said, “American roads are not good because America is rich, but America is rich because American roads are good”.
With the development in technology, connectivity has gotten a new fillip. High speed, bullet trains complement roadways to bring down the logistical costs culminating in lesser cost of final product. Thus, leading to progress within the nation. With several flagship programmes like PM Gati Shakti Master Plan, Bharat Mala, Sagar Mala and faster adoption of indigenous high-speed trains, PM Modi has been relentlessly pushing to update the infrastructure development within the nation.
India takes a significant step to become a giant in Aluminium rake manufacturing
On 16th of October, the Indian Railways inducted the first indigenously manufactured aluminium freight train rake. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw flagged off a 61-wagon rake from Bhubaneswar station.
The Minister said, “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”.
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The aluminium rakes have been jointly manufactured by Besco Limited Wagon Division and aluminium giant Hindalco. The new generation wagons are fabricated on RDSO-approved design. They are made from high strength aluminium alloy plates and extrusions. The new rakes have been indigenously manufactured at Hindalco’s facility in Hirakud, Odisha.
The new aluminium rakes are 180 tonnes lighter than existing steel rakes. They can carry 5-10% more payload. Additionally, sufficient reduction in weight will lead to lesser consumption of energy and relatively lesser wear and tear. This will significantly increase travel speed. These aluminium rakes will modernise freight transportation and enable large carbon savings for Indian Railways.
These wagons will carry coal for Hindalco’s Aditya Smelter in Lapanga, Odisha. The manufacturing of these aluminium rakes are a part of Hindalco’s larger plans. The aluminium giant Hindalco wants to contribute to lighter, cost-efficient and durable aluminium rail car body structures for high-speed passenger trains.
The new aluminium rakes have a very high resale value around 80 percent. It also extends the lifespan of these train rakes by at least a 10 year as compared to ordinary steel train rakes. However, these added features have come at an increased one-time cost. The manufacturing cost is 35 percent higher as the superstructure is all aluminium.
The official statement highlighted that manufacturing aluminium rakes gives an added benefit that it reduces import bill. It informed that the iron and steel industry consume a lot of nickel and cadmium. India has to depend on import of these metals. So, the rapid production of aluminium wagons will result in less import. In the meantime, it will be beneficial for the domestic aluminium industry.
Aluminium rakes will lead to significant reduction in Carbon emission
The aluminium train rakes will significantly lead to reduction in Carbon emission. It is estimated that for every 100 kg weight reduction of the rake, the CO2 emission drops by around 8-10 tonnes. So, an equivalent weight of rake will lead to a drop of 14,500 tonnes of CO2 emission.
The Railways has been planning to deploy more than one lakh wagons. So, if 15-20% of these proposed train rakes happen to be manufactured from aluminium, it may lead to a drop of around 25 lakh tonnes of Carbon emission.
Additionally, aluminium trains have a large share in the United States, Europe and Japan. It is attributed to its sleek, aerodynamic designs and their ability to tilt at high speeds without going off the rails.
Aluminium is the preferred choice for metro trains worldwide. They enhance passenger safety and provide higher durability. It has improved crashworthiness and superior crash absorption capability.
With this significant step India has hit several birds with just one shot. The increased number of aluminium rakes will reduce our import bill, although very slightly. Plus, it will lead to reduction in carbon emission.
That day is not far when India will utilise the progress and knowledge of manufacturing these aluminium rakes to manufacture our own indigenous aluminium bodied metro trains and high-speed trains. Evidently the Indian Railways have already announced their plans to make aluminium bodied Vande Bharat train sets. So, brace yourself for a high-speed progress of the Indian Railways.
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