The full-fledged operations of the Indian Railways’ roll-on-roll-off (RORO) facility will take some time as the carrier will require changes in the existing infrastructure or rolling stock to accommodate bigger trucks. The pilot, conducted in early March, was done using smaller trucks. “We will either need to increase the height of the overhead cables or look at special wagons which have lower-sized wheels which are used abroad to accommodate bigger trucks,” said a railway official requesting not to be named.
The RORO service provides the option to logistics operators to load their trucks on train racks for point-to-point travel to provide multimodal transport. Initially operated on Konkan Railways, the scheme has also been successfully deployed on another two railway zones — East Central and Northeast Frontier. The service allows trucks to negotiate areas where road connectivity is an issue, and also helps in curbing pollution and decongest cities — the prime reasons for the service to be deployed in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The first pilot in NCR was conducted on March 3, 2017 between Ghari Harsau and Murad Nagar. The RORO service is part of the national carriers’ business plan for 2017-18 aimed at increasing traffic and revenue — both passenger and freight. However, the trail was done on certain types of rolling stock with low height trucks which we were able to move under the existing cables requiring a clearance of 4.8 metre. But there are three-four locations which have been identified to have lesser clearances of around 4.3 meters. This means only low-height trucks, which is a huge burden on Delhi and around, can be moved but not the bigger ones or the trailer trucks as they require overhead clearance of around 5.2 metre.
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“We did two services to Meerut and back and realised that we need change in infrastructure to carry bigger trucks on a sustained basis to get across Delhi. We are working on the infrastructure and looking at how the height of wires can be increased. “We are also looking at alternate routes so as to bypass Delhi,” said the railway official. According to estimates, 80,000 trucks enter Delhi every day and is the chief contributor towards the deteriorating air quality of the capital city.