To tap the growing freight sector, the Railways is aiming to introduce the country’s first semi-high speed freight train by December 2022.
Based on the Vande Bharat platform, the 16-coach ‘Gati Shakti’ train will be able to run at 160 km/hour, and will be manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai.
“The design work for these trains has already started. We have also given the order for material…By December this year, we will be able to manufacture two of these trains,” ICF General Manager A.K. Agarwal said, adding that the overall target of 25 such trains had been set.
The final number of trains would depend on how the initial trains were received by market, he added.
Focus on e-commerce
With these trains, the Railways plans to target the e-commerce and courier parcel segment. Quoting data from IBEF, an ICF official added that with the turnover of $50 billion in 2020, India had become the 8th largest market for e-commerce.
“India’s ecommerce market is expected to reach $111 billion by 2024 and $200 billion by 2026 and expected to reach $350 billion by 2030,” the official said, adding that the Railways planned to capture the small size parcel shipments by running dedicated high speed freight trains.
Additionally, each train would have two refrigerated wagons — the first and last cars, to ferry perishable items such as fruits and vegetables.
The Railways is aiming to increase its share in freight transportation from the present 27% to 45% by 2030 through better infrastructure and business development plans, according to the National Rail Plan.