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Benefits pile up in double-stack operations

Mamuni Das

The Railways has made big savings by running double-stack trains from Pipavav and Mundra ports to the hinterland.

One of the several throughput enhancing measures adopted by the Indian Railways was the launching of double-stack container operations earlier this year on certain routes.

With an aim to quantify the overall benefits for running double-stack containers instead of single-stacks on the routes connecting the ports of Pipavav and Mundra to the northern hinterland, a recent study reports that in the current fiscal (2006-07), operating double-stack instead of single stack containers to move container traffic from these ports led to savings of Rs 88.7 crore in capital costs alone.

Additionally, it is expected to result in savings of Rs 17.13 crore in terms of revenue expenditure this fiscal, at the projected container handling of about 2.01 lakh containers from these two ports.

Sharing the details of this study, Mr Naresh Kumar, Vice-President (Technical), Pipavav Rail Corporation Ltd, told Business Line that: "The Ports of Mundra and Pipavav are expected to handle 2.01 lakh containers (twenty feet equivalent units or TEUs) this fiscal. If we were to move these containers by single-stack trains, each day we would need to move an average of 6.5 trains. But, if we were to move them by double stack container trains, we would need only 3.4 trains per day."

The revenue expenditure savings include annual cost reduction on account of a smaller number of crew, less fuel consumption, lower spending on account of rake maintenance and savings in locomotives, said Mr Kumar, who conducted the study. Capital expenditure includes the cost of rakes.

Similarly, in 2007-08, when Pipavav and Mundra are projected to handle 3.26 lakh TEUs, double-stack container operations can result in savings of Rs 144.1 crore in capital expenditure terms vis--vis single-stack container operations and another Rs 27.85 crore per annum in revenue expenditure.


Double-stack containers increase the carrying capacity of each train to 2,500 tonnes against 1,500 tonnes, apart from reducing line capacity constraints by 45-48 per cent.

At the current axle load of 20.32 tonnes, 85 per cent of containers handled in a month at Tughlakabad inland container depot (ICD) are of such weight that they can be double-stacked, based on a weight analysis of containers handled in a month in Tughlakabad, said Mr Kumar.

Similarly, about 50 per cent of import cargo from Pipavav port headed for Ludhiana inland container depot can be double-stacked at the existing axle load.

But, if the axle loads are increased to 23 tonnes on these routes, in line with what the Railways has done for some other heavy-haul routes, the loading capacity in the double-stack containers for the National Capital Region would increase by 93-95 per cent.

And if the axle loads for these routes are increased to 25 tonnes, then double-stack container operations can help achieve 100 per cent increase in capacity against single-stack operations.


Discussing the benefit of using flat wagons in India for double-stack operations instead of well wagons, Mr Kumar said that if well wagons were to be used for double-stack operations, the throughput increase would be 40 per cent against single-stack operations.

Well wagons are used for double-stack operations in several countries worldwide, but all those countries have narrower gauges than India, said Mr Kumar. He added that cost of well wagons is double that of flat wagons.

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Benefits pile up in double-stack operations

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