Railways brings the future of rail freight closer with Python

Freight loading targets too far to be met

Future of rail freight in India seems bright with Indian Railways introducing a one-of-its-kind long haul goods train. This massive formation of a freight train, aptly named as ‘Python’, consists of rakes for transporting different kinds of cargo and stretches up to a length of two kilometres.

Python has operated successfully three times in less than a month from Sambalpur in Odisha to the Waltair division of the East Coast Railway
(ECoR), moving at speeds of 50-60 kmph in order to ensure precision and timely delivery of goods.

The East Coast Railway, on February 26, 2019, joined three freight trains as one unit and ran it as a two km long goods train. The train had 147 wagons, three brake and guard vans along with four engines. It is fitted with distributed power wireless control system (DPWCS) and synchronised brakes. The first rake of 45 flat wagons was loaded with containers and the other two rakes of 51 alumina containers each of which was empty. The train went towards Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam Port.

RDSO in play

It was in 2012 when the Research Design and Standards organisation (RDSO) of the railways in 2012 had approved speed for amalgamation of two or more freight trains in one named as “Python”. Initial testing was done with clubbing two trains and later the railways reached clubbed up to three trains making a two-kilometer-long train! ‘Python Rake’, is long-haul goods train, comprising rakes for transporting different kinds of cargo and stretching to a length of up to two kilometers.

A railway official described it as a pilot project being undertaken in the zone. Such trains will run regularly once the proposed Dedicated Freight Corridors become a reality. Instead of one rake, three rakes are clubbed together. The rakes are supplied to the Visakhapatnam Port for despatch to various destinations. The rakes are also sent to Bailadilla mines of NMDC in Chhattisgarh to bring iron ore.

Paving the way for future rail freight

It is time saving, energy efficient and cost effective for users. A regular goods train stretches up to 650 to 800 metres. A ‘Python Rake’ consists of 147 wagons and looks like a snake because of its formation with two engines in the front and two at the rear. It hauls tanker wagons, flat wagons to carry containers and box wagons. “If such goods trains are run on regular basis, it will ensure evacuation of cargo without any delay giving a big relief to the ports as well as the users.

Due to its length, a ‘Python Rake’ cannot be operated regularly to mainline stations as express trains have to be allowed to pass through on a priority. When required the ‘Python Rake’ can be split into two trains because of its configuration with four engines.  Railway has plans to operate such trains in SECR, NR, ER, NER, SR, CR, SECR, WR, NCR, NWR, ECR, and WCR zones.

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