Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is working on an ambitious plan of including India in the world's long-haul map.
The outlines of this scheme - envisaging the induction of the train operation of locos (TROL) technology - are likely to be spelt out by Bansal in his upcoming budget speech later this month, sources said.
In his budget speech, Bansal is likely to sanction projects for constructing 49 long loop lines (1,500 metres long) alongside stations for enabling parking space for long-haul trains to allow premier passenger trains to overtake them, when necessary.
"Long-haul trains decongest tracks - enabling faster, economical and greater movement of goods. There is an urgent need to consider technologies to reduce the cost of transportation," Bansal said at a conference on Monday.
The Indian Railways has been long trying to enter the world's long-haul club.
At present, 25 long-haul trains powered by three or more engines and comprising 118 wagons are being run, each having the capacity to carry approximately 10,000 tonnes of freight.
Three of these are being run by deploying TROL technology. "By next year, 70 goods trains will be using TROL, and Railways will be able to run trains comprising 180 wagons.
Canada, South Africa and Australia are pioneers in long haul operations. A freight train in Canada contains 172 wagons, while South Africa has the distinction of running the world's longest long-haul, comprising 224 wagons, with a capacity of carrying 32,000 tonnes of freight. "State-of-the-art signaling and track construction technologies will be used to build India's Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) - which will also have new design wagons with higher capacity axle loads," an official said.