Ever wondered what Indian Railways means when it says that Talgo coaches have been tried filled to capacity? How are any new coaches tested for their ability to take passenger load? It’s too risky for the Railways to get people to occupy seats to test the carrying capacity of a coach. So what’s the solution? Sand bags! Yes, what Indian Railways does is, it calculates the loading capacity of a coach and then puts sandbags of equivalent weight in the coaches during trial runs.
Says Vijay Kumar, Executive Director, Infrastructure at Railway Board, “What Talgo did is, it told us the tare weight (weight with coach empty) and the gross weight of a coach. We subtracted the tare weight from the gross weight to arrive at the bearing capacity of the coach. Sand bags were then put accordingly.” “The difference between the tare weight and the gross weight for Talgo’s coaches varied from 2 to 2.5 tonnes. That is 2,000 kg to 2,500 kg. Sandbags were used accordingly,” he says.
“Talgo’s chair cars can seat 36 people and the Executive chair cars can seat 18 people,” he tells FE Online. Is there a particular weight of the sand bags? No, says Vijay Kumar. “Normally sandbags are available in the 50 kg category, but there is no fixed rule. Basically what matters is the total bearing capacity, there is no fixed weight of the sand bags we use. Whatever is available is made use of, making sure that the total adds up to the carrying capacity,” he explains. “This is an internationally tested procedure for trying out new coaches,” he adds.
Last week, Talgo’s coaches successfully completed their first run loaded to full capacity at a speed of 180 kmph between the Mathura to Palwal stretch. This speed is said to be the fastest till date on Indian tracks, beating the likes of Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Gatimaan.
Now, the third stage trials will begin from August 1, on the Delhi to Mumbai Rajdhani route. The final trials, which will take place at speeds of 130 kmph and 150 kmph, are expected to be complete by August 6. This will test the possibility of completing a train journey between the two cities in less than 12 hours. Reports on all three stages of the extensive trial runs of the Talgo train will then be submitted and the Railway Ministry will take a call on whether the Spanish high-speed train manufacturer’s coaches will be used on Indian tracks.