Railway officials say Crack trains have helped increase railways efficiency.(HT Photo)
Railway officials say Crack trains have helped increase railways efficiency.(HT Photo)

Crack trains: How railways put goods movement on fast track during Covid 19

A senior railway official said it is not easy to run non stop and high speed goods trains due to challenges.
Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By Oliver Fredrick | Edited by Abhinav Sahay
UPDATED ON SEP 16, 2020 06:42 PM IST

The Indian Railways has successfully put into motion Mission Raftaar (speed) to accelerate the movement of freight to meet the increasing demand for essential commodities’ transportation in an efficient manner. These trains run by the north eastern railways during the pandemic are being called the Crack trains.

These freight trains operate nonstop between the originating point and the destination, resulting in prioritized and swift transportation of goods. In the last three months alone, NER has operated around 1,590 Crack trains transporting grains, sugar, salt and petroleum products to different parts of the country.

“Though the concept is not new but yes we are executing it thoroughly and this has made a big difference. In July and August, our division ferried more than 1000 Crack trains. Among these, the longest one was from Chhapra to Roza, covering the distance of 572 km within 10 hours. The entire train was managed by a single crew. Crack trains have not only increased the efficiency or railways but is also the time-effective way of transporting goods,” said Monica Agnihotri, divisional railway manager (DRM), Lucknow Division, NER, who spearheaded mission ‘raftar’ at NER.

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Ensuring non stop movement of freight traffic isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“It requires a whole team of officials, who need to keep a continuous track on the train movement and to provide a kind of ‘green corridor’ to the train to ensure non-stop movement,” Agnihotri said, adding several changes had been introduced to make the movement of these crack trains more efficient.

“Changing of crew used to take 15 minutes or almost an hour and so it was decided to run the trains with the same crew. To encourage loco pilots and board controllers to increase the average speed of the train, a point based incentive system was introduced. The top performers, who scored maximum points, get ranked and awarded. We have introduced different categories including platinum, gold, silver and bronze categories,” she said.

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“Since crack trains run on a priority basis, they are monitored live via a 3-tier mechanism of board controller, chief controller and officer. These officers keep all, from controllers to station masters, informed about the train movement,” she said.

NER division, considered a crucial link between agricultural and industrial hubs, now plans to increase the speed of these trains further. “We intend to run goods trains at par with the express trains in order to further expedite the entire goods transportation process,” an official said.

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