INDIA'S FIRST double-stack train was flagged off by Minister of Railways Laloo Prasad Yadav on March 23. Starting from the Kanakpura Inland Container Depot near Jaipur in Rajasthan, the train ran to the Arabian Sea port of Pipavav in Gujarat, a distance of 950 km.

With accelerated growth in export and import traffic over the last decade, Indian ports are experiencing significant delays in container clearance, and the minister made a commitment to the Lok Sabha during his railway budget speech in February to improve the movement of containers by rail.

The launch of double-stack services followed a detailed survey of the route, which started in September 2005. Train length is currently limited to 45 wagons by the length of passing loops, equivalent to 180TEUs. Maximum speed is 75 km/h. At present the service can only accept 8ft 6in boxes, but IR is assessing the scale of the infrastructure changes that would be needed to permit the carriage of 9ft 6in High Cube containers.

Double-stack operation is seen as a key element in IR's plan for high-capacity freight corridors (RG 4.06 p175).