Thursday, 23 June 2011

Diesel Locomotives in India

Indian Railways (IR) is the state-owned railway company of India, overseen by the Ministry of Railways (MoR) of the Government of India (GoI). It owns and operates the country's rail transport. It is the largest rail network in Asia and the world's second largest under single management. Since its inauguration of 21 miles Bombay-Thane route on 16th April 1853, there were the small beginnings which in due course developed into a network of railway lines criss crossing all over the country. According to latest statistics, Indian Railways owns total track kilometers of 86,526 km (broad guage), 18,529 km (meter guage), and 3,651 km (meter guage), total 108,706 km. Total route kilometer is 63,028 km in which 16,001 km is electrified route.  Indian Railways runs around 11,000 trains everyday, of which 7,000 are passenger trains. For this, there are 7566 locomotives, 37,840 coaching vehicles, 222,147 freight wagons, 6853 stations, 300 yards, and 1.54 million work force. Safe and Punctual running of passenger service trains for 13 million passengers each day is of paramount importance to the system.

Invention of diesel engine in 1887 by Rudolf Diesel was a point of industrial revolution. Diesel engines got a bigger size by assembly more than one engine into an engine block or power pack. This power pack drives the locomotive, which is finally used to drive trains over railway tracks.

Large scale induction of diesel locomotives in Indian Railways started with the acquisition of 100 units of 1950 hp diesel locomotives from American Locomotive Company (ALCO), USA in 1958-59. These were followed by 2600 hp units (WDM2 type) beginning 1962 along with the Transfer of Technology (ToT) arrangement. This was rapidly followed up with setting up a manufacturing unit for production of diesel locomotives at Varanasi.

The changeover form steam to diesel traction opened out a vast field of rapid, low cost transport with tremendous flexibility. It simultaneously necessitated development of workshops and maintenance depots, retraining of engineers and technicians, and reorientation of the materials management organization to deal with a new variety of spares.

Various modifications and improvements have been made on this locomotive in the 1990s and the designs have been upgraded to 3100 hp and 3300 hp. Another era in diesel traction started in 1999, when 4000 hp WDG4 diesel locomotives with AC-AC electric transmission, imported from the Electro Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors (GM), USA with a ToT arrangement.

As per latest statistics on April 2011, there are total 4236 diesel locomotives being maintained in 42 main diesel sheds in all 16 railway zones. There are variants of locomotives comprising 1140 WDM2, 1146 WDG3A, 63 WDP1, 40 WDP3A, 1021 WDM3A, 277 WDM3D, 404 WDG4, and 145 WDP4.

The variants of the locomotives are distributed unevenly. Maximum locomotive holdings of specific type are as 77 WDM2 (GD), 96 WDG3A (KZJ), 46 WDP1 (TKD), 26 WDP3A (TKD), 75 WDM3A (GD), 45 WDM3D (ED), 163 WDG4 (HUBLI), and 48 WDP4 (SGUJ).

Out of these, 1665 locomotives (39.30%) are used to run passenger service trains and remaining (60.70%) are utilized for freight trains. Last year's failures of these locomotives caused 3290 direct cases of loss of punctuality of passenger trains, including 286 (8.69%) cases of mismanagement by pilots and 424 (12.88%) cases under miscellaneous and other category. In view of above, diesel locomotive fleet becomes most important mode of traction on Indian Railways. Due to frequent use of the term `locomotive', it has got its nickname ``loco''.

A reliable and safe process of passenger and freight train services is determined by efficient application of technical maintenance and repair systems, as well as strict work and technological discipline. For this, maintenance facility has to be managed with relevant considerations of critical factors related to effective use of the resources and desired analysis for easing out the practical and basic problems.

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