India’s first semi-high speed freight train is expected to roll by the end of the year

India’s first semi-fast freight train is expected to enter service by December, officials said on Friday. Replicating the concept of Vande Bharat trains, the 16-car “Shakti” train can reach 160 km/h and will be manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai.

In order to implement the PM Gati Shakti initiative in a targeted manner, the railways has established a separate directorate within the Board of Railways with its branches in Khurda, Bilaspur, Delhi and Bengaluru divisions to fast-track the program ambitious.

“The design work for these trains has already started. We have also given the order for materials… By December this year, we will be able to manufacture two of these trains,” said the managing director of ICF, AK Agarwal adding that a set target of 25 such trains has been set.

The final number of trains will depend on how the first ones are received by the market, he added.

The railways plan to target the e-commerce and parcel courier segment through these trains, officials said. Each train will also have refrigerated cars at the back and front to transport perishable goods like dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables.

The electrical connection of these wagons will be provided from the coach. The rest of the cars will have rollers to move the container. Each car will have two wide doors for loading and unloading containers.

According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, with a turnover of $50 billion in 2020, India has become the eighth largest e-commerce market.

“The Indian e-commerce market is expected to reach $111 billion by 2024 and $200 billion by 2026 and is expected to reach $350 billion by 2030,” the official said, adding that the railways Indians planned to capture small parcel shipments by running dedicated high-speed freight trains.

Indian Railways aims to increase its share in freight transport from the current 27% to 45% by 2030 through better infrastructure and business development plans, according to the National Rail Plan.

Indian Railways has identified 74 new Gati-Shakti Multimodal Cargo Terminal (GCT) locations across the country, including 20 in the

under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Gati-Shakti Multi Model Cargo Terminal’ policy.

The policy was launched in 2021 to stimulate investment in the development of additional terminals for handling rail freight.

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