Almost everyone at some time or other has imagined ‘driving’ a railway engine. However, it takes some big beasts to move these prime movers when they are not moving under their own steam.

A diesel–electric locomotive is a sight to behold. Its magnificent power and the seeming pride with which it hauls wagons and coaches inspire awe. However, moving these giants, when they are not on rails under their own power, is a mighty serious business. These iron horses, effortless in pulling thousands of tons over thousands of kilometres on rails, are literally ‘heavily’ dependent on expert care and strong mechanical sinews to make them move even an inch on roads.

It is most satisfying, then, to report that one of India’s leading technical consultancy companies, M/s RITES Ltd, reposed its faith in Boxco for the logistics and allied services for the transportation of ten of these mega transporters. Boxco then, with its reach stretching from the heartland of India to Chennai on the east coast of the Indian peninsula, is doing its bit in the progress of our country and also of Sri Lanka, the country that had purchased these giants, which literally ‘move’ economies in more ways than one.

M/s RITES Ltd is a major Government of India enterprise under the aegis of Indian Railways. It is internationally recognised as a leading consultant with operational experience in over 55 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. It is the sole export arm of Indian Railways for shipping rolling stock overseas. It is, therefore, a matter of real satisfaction for us to have received such a prestigious logistics contract from this transportation consultancy, which is also an expert in infrastructure and related technologies.

M/s RITES Ltd has entrusted Boxco with the transportation of ten high-powered diesel– electric locomotives. These were manufactured at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), Varanasi. Boxco will transport them right from where they were built, up to and alongside the vessel at the seaport at Chennai, from where they are shipped to Sri Lanka.

Boxco was required not only to carry the locomotives across the length of the country, but also to gather together all the spares and other essential items that were sourced by M/s RITES Ltd from abroad and also locally from various places within India. The heavy movement across the roads was arranged by a robust back office infrastructure that stitched together the documents and corresponding movements in close coordination with the client.

Apart from the usual challenges in such logistics, consideration had to be given to the nature of the cargo, a fully built and complex machine. The requirement was also to manoeuvre the upper part of the locomotive onto its wheel bogies at the port of loading. The complete railroadready locomotive was then hoisted onto Boxco’s transport for carriage alongside the ship for its final adieu to the country of its birth. We sincerely wish and trust that these worthy products of India will do our country proud with their impeccable service in Sri Lanka.

Out of the contracted ten locomotives, five have already been delivered and the remaining five will be moved in October and November 2019.

The loco uppers when assembled each weigh 80 MT, and their dimensions are 22.3 m (l) × 3.1 m (w) × 4.1 m (h). Each was placed on suitably designed trestles and carried on hydraulic axles. The loco bogies, two sets per loco, each weigh 21.5 MT, with dimensions 6.10 m (l) × 3.0 m (w) × 1.3 m (h).

They were transported from the works at Varanasi to Chennai Port, a distance of 2,370 km.

Each heavy haul was closely supervised 24 × 7 by Boxco’s experienced and qualified personnel. Road traffic permissions, electric line shutdowns, railway line shutdowns, cargo security, port permissions, police permissions and other compliances were all obtained well in time.

The assembling of the spare parts, consumables etc. from other manufacturers was coordinated such that the shipment moved together, as a unit and as agreed by RITES Ltd with its clients, Sri Lanka Railways. Customs clearance was obtained just in time, in a fully compliant manner. The challenge of meeting the schedules while handling a disparate variety of loads from multiple destinations, plus the complex port handling involving the assembly of the upper part of the locomotive onto its bogies, which was then reloaded onto waiting axles, has been completed without a hitch each time.

Now, when all those involved in this project see a locomotive rushing along the rails with its huge loads, we think about the planning, the coordination, the muscle and the nerve that went into placing that locomotive on the tracks. Heavy hauls are always purposeful and the state of an economy can, in some ways, be measured by the heavy hauls occurring. However, moving the movers is something that BOXCO’s customs clearance, heavy lift, heavy haul, route survey and port handling teams will always be proud of.