Existing Tracks cannot bear very heavy loads: RDSO warns

NEW DELHI: The Railways’ research arm, Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), has warned against carrying heavy cargo till the existing rail tracks are upgraded.

It is unsafe to move wagons with loads of over 22.9 tonnes per axle on Indian Railways’ tracks, RDSO has said.

Carrying heavier wagons — with loads of 25 tonnes per axle — is creating extra stress/pressure on the rails, even when freight trains travel at a (relatively slow) speed of 50 km per hour, the research wing has told the public carrier.

Based on the report, the Railway Ministry has decided to bar wagons carrying loads of 25 tonnes per axle or more till the rail tracks are strengthened, said an official.

To carry heavier cargo — that is wagons with loads of 25 tonnes per axle — the rails have to be upgraded to a higher strength of 60 kg, 110 ultimate tensile strength, or UTS.

All the zones have been asked to implement the order restricting the carriage of such heavy cargo, according to an official note in circulation in Railways.

At present, 60kg, 110 tensile strength tracks in the recommended strength do not exist on the Railways’ network, experts said. Also, most of the wagons carry a load of up to 22.9 tonnes per axle load.

However, certain routes were earlier notified by the Railways, permitting movements of higher loads of 25 tonnes per axle. With the new loading norms lowering the capacity by 10 per cent, more wagons will have to be used to carry the same load. The move could particularly impact the way iron ore is ferried.

“There are around 1,700 route kms spread over around five rail zones that move iron ore and that is where the impact of this move may be felt,” said a railway official, declining to share further details. Iron ore movement has been one of top contributors to Railway freight earnings.