The Indian Railway network is the fourth largest in the world. It is only behind superpowered such as US and Russia along with China. Also, ours is probably the most densely packed railways due to the large population and affordable travel rates. With a rail network so vast, it then becomes quite a task to maintain the whole network across the country. When it comes to the maintenance of tracks, the Indian Railways use several utility vehicles that do the job more efficiently and quickly. Among them are Hopper trucks, which have become a necessary utility for the Indian Railways overtime. The video below shows one such hopper truck which is on field duty.
As seen in the video, these Hoppers are essentially dumper trucks fitted with specially designed wheels that enable them to run on railway tracks. The video above is shot around a location near Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. According to the driver of this truck, the wheels on this truck have been brought from Gwalior and then fitted on it. The hopper improves work efficiency to a great extent and saves a lot of manpower along with time.
For those wondering what a Hopper does, it is used for ballasting railway tracks. The tracks are banked by stones on either side and this task is performed with the help of a hopper truck. The video below showcases how these trucks work and reduce labour.
These Hoppers are loaded with stones that are to be laid on the tracks. Upon reaching an appropriate point, the driver lifts the rear bed slowly so as to make the load fall. The rear cover is open only on the sides which enables the stones to be laid out on either side of the track. The truck then moves while the stones fall of the dumper bed and thus covering the required track. This process of laying locks for stabilising the tracks is known as ballasting. The stones are then spread out manually wherever needed and banked in a proper way, so as to hold the tracks properly.
Railway track ballasting is very necessary as it gives the much-needed strength and stability to the tracks. Trains move at good speeds at with the amount of load they carry, an improper ballasted track can prove fatal for them. These stones hold it in place and avoid too much movement as they absorb the vibrations and spread them across themselves. Bent or broken tracks can be a result of improper ballasting which again shows why it is important. With the help of hoppers, this task becomes quite easy and can be done at a much faster pace than doing the whole job manually.