New Delhi: Indian Railways is finalising a new policy to bring about state-of-the-art technology in wagon manufacturing and maintenance and allow private players to procure wagons on lease without investing in it.
The new wagon policy, to be announced soon, is a step towards opening up of the wagon sector to private sector, said a senior railway ministry official.
The existing wagons were designed 25 years ago. They have become outdated and there is a need to change it to meet the global standard, said the official.
Currently, customers have to buy their own wagons for carrying goods under the wagon investment scheme. “If a person wants to carry goods on a truck, he does not have to invest in a truck. Then, why should he invest in wagons if he wants to carry it on train?” said the official.
The policy would allow private players to invest in special kinds of wagons and lease them to customers of railways. Till now, it was only railways which can lease out wagons.
“Once the wagon sector is opened up to private players, it would bring new design and new technology to the wagon manufacturing and maintenance,” said the official.
“There is a need for new design of wagons for transportation of specific commodities like cement, iron ore which are the largest items carried by railways today. However, the railways would not use its capital for these new wagons though the design has to be approved by it”.
“Our wagons and containers are not equipped to carry large numbers of vehicles like in Europe or the US. That is why, the autmobile industry is still depending upon the road transport for its business. The automobile industry is growing at a fast pace and our containers and wagons have to be redesigned to meet the challenge,“ said the official.
Railways hope that once wagon manufacturing and leasing is opened up to public private participation mode, the wagon investors would bring latest technology to the sector.
It has also been proposed to increase the axle load of freight trains to 32.5 tonnes. The move will help wagons increase their gross weight carrying capacity to 130 tonnes from the present 91 tonnes.