CHENNAI: Car manufacturers have long been pushing for better methods to transport their cars by rail. Now Indian Railways and Maruti Suzuki flagged off a new high-capacity railway rake in Gurgaon on Wednesday. Named ‘Flexi deck auto-wagon rake’, it brings the advantages of higher capacity, flexibility, faster speed and environment friendliness to rail transportation of cars.
The flexi deck auto-wagon rake, designed by Indian Railway’s Research Design and Standards Organization, has 20% additional capacity (318 cars) as compared to the current twin-decker rakes (265 cars), used for rail transportation.
The new rake, with its height adjustable middle-deck, is highly flexible and can transport vehicles of multiple dimensions. The new rake can move at speed of up to 95 km per hour as compared to 65 km per hour of the existing rakes. It can travel between Gurgaon and Bangalore in five days as compared to seven days by road transportation. Transporting cars by new flexi deck auto-wagon rake will lead to reduction in carbon emission making it more environment friendly.The first flexi deck auto-wagon rake consisting of 27 wagons chugged off to Nidavanda near Bangalore from Gurgaon carrying a mixed load of Maruti Suzuki cars including Swift, Dzire, Alto, Wagon R and Omni.
Maruti Suzuki is India’s first automobile company to procure flexi deck auto-wagon rakes. It has initially procured three such rakes of 27 wagons each. These rakes will be primarily deployed in the high-volume west and south India destinations.
In the long term, the company will dispatch cars through railways to several destinations like Nagpur, Siliguri, Mumbai, Pune, Mundra, Kolkata etc. Maruti Suzuki will order more rakes to meet its growing transportation requirement.
M M Singh, COO (production), Maruti Suzuki, said, “Trains are one of the fastest, safest and eco-friendly modes of transportation. With these newly designed rakes, we have been able to increase the load carrying capacity along with a high flexibility to cater to a variety of vehicle dimensions.”
Maruti Suzuki will develop infrastructure at the off-loading destinations to streamline the railways transportation.
Initially, Maruti Suzuki has developed a railway station at Nidavanda, near Bangalore. The Nidavanda station has a capacity to handle nearly 300 vehicles right now. As Maruti Suzuki has big volumes for South India destinations, Bangalore will be used as a feeder point for dealer network.
With the flexi deck auto-wagon rake in place, the Indian Railways and Maruti Suzuki will jointly relieve the road infrastructure of the excessive load and bring modern, high capacity vehicle transportation to the country’s logistics map.
Maruti Suzuki has been using rail transportation mode for over two decades. In 2008, it joined hands with Indian railways and developed double-deck container trains to enhance the load carrying capacity. These continue to be used by the company mainly for the export vehicles from its’ manufacturing plants in Haryana to Mundra port.
While the dispatch through railways increased from 2% in 2007-08 to over 5% in 2012-13, with the commissioning of the flexi deck auto-wagon rakes, the company is confident that rail transportation would substantially increase in the future.