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Hindalco Launches India’s First All-Aluminum Freight Trains

all-aluminum freight rail rakes© by Hindalco Industries

Hindalco Industries launched India’s first all-aluminum freight rail wagons in India. The new aluminum train wagons, with components supplied by Hindalco, will support the country in its plan to modernize its freight transportation network and enable large carbon savings for Indian Railways.

The freight sector in India is expected to grow at more than 7% CAGR to 15 billion tonnes by 2050. In conjunction with this growth, Indian Railways is expected to increase its volume share in this market up from the current 18%.

“This is a proud moment for the country and our drive for indigenization as these lightweight aluminum wagons are a big innovation for Indian Railways,” said Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister of Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology. “These wagons save 14,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions, have more carrying capacity, consume less energy and are corrosion-resistant. They are 100% recyclable and even after 30 years, they will be as good as new. These aluminum wagons will enable us to achieve our climate goals.”

Aluminum Rail Wagons

Made from high strength aluminum alloy plate and extrusions, the new generation wagons are 180 tonnes lighter than existing steel versions and will consume less energy, as well as being corrosion resistant and recyclable at the end of their useful life.

The new aluminum freight wagons were specifically designed to carry coal. The bottom discharge wagon is tipped in order to further reduce weight and measurably reduce its carbon footprint. The first 61-wagon rake was launched from Bhubaneswar station, which will carry coal for Hindalco’s Aditya smelter in Lapanga, Odisha.

For every 100 kg weight that is removed from the wagon, a lifetime CO2 savings of 8-10 tonnes can be achieved. Therefore, each rake (connected line of wagons) is expected to save 14,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions compared to the steel version.

The Indian Railways is planning to deploy more than 100,000 wagons in the coming years, of which 15-20% will be shifted to aluminum wagons. As a result, the potential annual CO2 reduction could be to the tune of over 2.5 million tonnes — a notable contribution to the country’s sustainability goals.

Furthermore, the new aluminum rail wagons can also carry 5-10% more payload, which will have a transformative impact on Indian Railways’ logistics and operational efficiency.

The plate for the train wagons were produced by Hindalco at its state-of-the-art rolling facility in Hirakud, Odisha, while the extrusions were manufactured at the company’s plant in Renukoot, Uttar Pradesh. Fabrication and assembly of the wagons was performed by Besco Group, after the design was approved by the Research Designs & Standards Organization (RDSO).

“The launch of India’s first aluminum freight rake is a testimony to our capability and commitment to offer smart and sustainable solutions for nation building,” said Satish Pai, managing director, Hindalco Industries. “Hindalco is steadfast in bringing together the best of global technologies with local resources to make Indian Railways’ logistics more efficient and contribute to the vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat.” (Note: Atmanirbhar Bharat translates to “self-reliant India.”)

In addition to utilizing aluminum for new freight trains, Indian Railways have announced plans to make aluminum-bodied Vande Bharat semi-high-speed, intercity train sets.

Aluminum is the preferred choice for metro trains worldwide, and the material makes up the lion’s share of train bodies in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. This is due to aluminum’s durability, which enables sleek, aerodynamic railcar designs that can tilt at high speeds without going off the rails. More importantly, aluminum improves passenger safety, as it has superior crash absorption and provides improved crashworthiness.

Hindalco also plans to supply aluminum plate and extrusions for the manufacture of aluminum coaches for high-speed passenger trains. The company stated that it is committed to bringing in this revolutionary change to the railway system in India. Currently, the company is engaged in discussions with global partners to set up a conducive ecosystem in the country.

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