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Saga of Traction for Iron Ore Transportation on SE Railway

By on September 10, 2014

Iron ore mines of Chakradharpur division of South Eastern Railway have been feeding all the major Steel Plants of India starting from TATA Steel (in 1920s) and Burnpur Steel Plant of IISCO (now Steel Authority of India Limited).  Iron ore coming out of the bowels of the earth of Chakradharpur division is an invaluable commodity and has contributed its might towards manufacturing of steel for the construction of automobiles, machinery, buildings, bridges and factories and has thus fueled an industrial revolution in India after independence.

One of the very first iron-ore mines was set up in Chiria near Manoharpur and in Gurumahisani area under Chakradharpur division. Rajkharswan – Dangoaposi line was opened in 1924 and extended to Gua in 1925. Tata Steel started the iron-ore mines at Noamundi in 1925.  A train of KG type open wagons hauled by a 2-8-0 Vulcan class steam locomotive used to haul the iron ore to Jamshedpur.
Loco1
Chakradharpur division of South Eastern Railways has got the distinction of introducing 25 kV electric traction on Indian Railways.  A transformer and a circuit breaker, taken on loan from SNCF, were commissioned at a site near Kendposi.  OHE was energized on 25 kV AC from Kendposi to Rajkharswan and the pantograph of loco No.20250 was for the first time raised at Kendposi on 12th December 1959.  On 15th December 1959, official inauguration ceremony took place, when a steam special train and an electric loco ran parallel on the 3 Km double track between the feeding post site to Kendposi station.  Rajkharswan-Dangoaposi section was officially inaugurated on electric traction on 11th August 1960.

Kendposi
25 kV AC traction technology was taken from 50 cycles group, a European consortium. The first Traction Substation was set up at Kendposi near Dangoaposi and the first electric loco goods train run took place from Kendposi to Chaibasa for a distance of 35 kms and set the tone of Railway electrification on Indian Railways.  Later on, the electrification spread over the iron ore and coal routes of Eastern and South Eastern Railways.

The first electric locomotive was BBM1 (WAG-1) type and was imported from 50 cycles group, Europe.  This locomotive of B-B type with 2870 HP power and 25T starting tractive effort was able to haul a train load of 2200 T at 50 KMPH speed. In 1970s, Indian Railways modified the French design, adopted it to Indian conditions and first co-co type 25 kV AC WAM-4 locomotive was manufactured at Chittaranjan Locomotive Works & introduced in regular service.  This was 3640 HP, 33T starting tractive effort locomotive and was able to haul 3200 T train with speed of 90 KMPH.

FirstElectricLoco
Based on the experience gathered, and feedback from field, the loco technology was further improved and a standardized WAG-5 locomotive was introduced in service in late 1980s by Chittaranjan Locomotive Works. This was a 4000 HP locomotive.  Initially, French design TAO 659 traction motors and later on Japanese design Hitachi traction motors were installed on these locomotives.  This loco, working in multi consist of 2 locos, was able to haul a BOX-N train load of 4700 T on 1:100 gradient.
Wag5
With reduction in transformer weight and improved insulating materials becoming available, the loco transformer capacity was increased and a WAG-7 type of locomotive was introduced in service during 1990s.  The locomotive is a co-co type having Hitachi Traction Motors and 5400 KVA loco transformer.  This locomotive of 5000 HP, is able to haul a BOX-N train with 4700 T load at speed of 90 kmph and can negotiate gradients upto 1:220.  This loco is the present workhorse of Indian Railways.

During the late 1990s, Indian Railways entered into technology transfer agreement with M/s ABB and as a result, a WAG-9 locomotive having 3-phase induction motors with micro processor controlled technology was introduced in service in 1996.  Initially few locomotives were imported in CKD (completely knocked down kit) form and later serial manufacture was taken up at Chittaranjan Locomotive Works. A single WAG-9 co-co locomotive, with 6000 HP and 46 T starting tractive effort is able to haul a 59 BOX-N train on a gradient of 1 in 200 at a speed of 50 KMPH.
Wag9
Recently, trials have been conducted with loco-trol technology, by which a WAG-7/WAG-9 locomotive is connected at either end of the goods train and, with loco-trol technology, the loco pilot is able to control both the locos i.e. leading and trailing one.  This has revolutionalised the iron ore transportation.  The technology has been introduced in the TATA Steel closed circuit, having iron ore mines in Joda area near Banspani.  Iron ore is transported from Banspani (Joda) area to TATA Steel Plant at Jamshedpur.

The advantage of this push-pull loco-trol technology is that only a single set of crew is required and there is drastic reduction in terminus turn-round time at both ends as loco shunting is not involved.  Average speed of trains has gone up.  TATA steel has introduced rapid loading mechanized system at its mines. With this, the total turn round from TATA shops to mining area and back is drastically down from an average of 42 hours to 28 hours.

pushpulltrain

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  1. my father late g. govind rao was the first traction foreman (r) at anara serly in 1962 in west bengal

    • Mahesh Kumar Jain says:

      Nice to hear this. I had special regards for the traction organisation of Anara. All the best. If you can share the photograph of that period, if any available with you.

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