Electric Locomotive Roster: The WAG Series!

Before there was the celebrated WAP series, there were the WAGs. No, not the WAG as in football terminology, but Broad Gauge (W) AC Electric (A) Goods/freight locomotives (G) of the Indian Railways, which railfans consider to be much more eyecandy than the WAGs (well, in most cases) the rest of the world drool over. The WAGs are serious business, they might not be glamorous or make a lot of noise, but they are the powers behind the throne, the actual unsung heroes of India that silently work away behind the scenes, driving the economy of the country, moving all imaginable freight and the occasional passenger across the country. The WAGs are everywhere toiling away noiselessly, all but invisible to most people, but if you start looking for them, you will start seeing only them! The WAG series is the only series of Indian Railway locomotives of any type that have been in continuous production from their original class that was not derived from any other until today, spanning 60 years and 9 classes, with the WAG10 hopefully on its way.

The WAGs are all about power. Raw, brutal power and torque. Speed is not important for freight locomotives. They trade speed for power and torque to haul the heaviest of loads weighing hundreds of times more than the average passenger train. The biggest challenge for them is to start off from standstill and to tackle gradients for which they have to be heavier and possess high starting tractive effort, adhesion factor (grip) axle-mounted traction motors etc., all engineered to provide maximum pulling power, as we will see in this chapter. So here is all about the history, evolution and specifications of all of India’s electric freight (goods) locomotives!

Check Here for a quick overview on how electric locomotives work

WAG 1

  • Very first electric freight locosIMG_0943
  • Built in Europe along with WAM1
  • Production Period: 1963-1966
  • Total Produced: 112
  • Wheel Arrangement: B-B
  • Top Rated Power: 2930 hp
  • Top Speed: 80 kph
  • Control: Tap-Changer
  • Wt:85t TE:30t AL:21.3t

The WAG1 was delivered to the Indian Railways by the 50Hz Group/European Group/50 Cycles Group (consortium) in 1962, a couple of years after the WAM1, developments leading to which are detailed in the chapter on the WAM series. They were not just a modified version of the WAM1 but specifically created for freight operations. All that they shared with the WAM1 was that SNCF design philosophy which would be followed down the line until the WAG7. The WAG1 featured monomotor B-B bogies (one traction motor per four-wheel bogie) powering both axles, a favorite French design of the time because of its technical efficiency, performance predictability and high adhesion, but the locos turned out to be underpowered. For some reason they also had traction motors mounted on the bogies. WAG1s produced less power than even the WAM1s and were the second least powerful AC electric locomotives ever to run in India after the WAM2/3. But they did feature quite some technology advanced for their time like regenerative braking and multiple unit operation capability for up to 4 units. 46 were imported from France and CLW produced its first one #20710 “Bidhaan” in November 1963, the very first AC electric locomotive of any type built in India, and was homed at Vijayawada BZA/SER. They were in service until 2000 when all were scrapped. Bidhaan is preserved at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi.

Drive: Two Alstom MG1420 DC traction motors, fully suspended, connected to wheels by Jacquemin drives, controlled by tap-changers and silicon-controlled rectifiers.

WAG 2

  • Japanese version of the WAG17720 Dhaulpur 6 december 1990
  • All imported fully built
  • Period of Production: 1964-65
  • Number Produced: 45
  • Top Rated Power: 3450 hp
  • Top Rated Speed: 80 kph
  • Wheel Arrangement: B-B
  • Wt: 86t, TE: 30t AL: 21.3t

As it was with the WAM2, the WAG2 class was supplied by the Japanese Hitachi-Toshiba-Mitsubishi consortium as an alternative to the WAG1, 45 locomotives all imported fully built from Japan. All design aspects were similar to those of the WAG1 but were identifiable by larger cab windows, banks of larger ventilation panels on their sides and were overall more “compact” and cuter than the muscular WAG1. They featured the same monomotor B-B bogies of the WAG1 but had Hitachi traction motors instead of the Alstom motors of the WAP1, connected to the wheels by a Quill drive instead of the WAP1’s Jacqemin drive. This resulted in increase in 500 hp in power from the WAG2 compared to its predecessor. The WAG2 also featured rheostatic braking and silicon rectifiers and tap-changer control They were all homed at Asansol ASN/ER which seemed to be the receiving station for all new AC loco types. All are scrapped now. Here you can see WAG2 #20811 under construction in a Japanese factory.

Drive: Two Hitachi EFCO DC traction motors, fully suspended, connected to the wheels by a geared drive, controlled by tap-changers and silicon-controlled rectifiers.

WAG 3

  • Procured from the European Group
  • The same WAG1 with different TMs
  • Production Period: 1965
  • Number Produced: 10
  • Top Rated Power: 3590 hp
  • Top Rated Speed: 80 kph
  • Wheel Arrangement: B-B
  • Wt: 87t; TE: 30t; AL: 20t

The WAG3 was also procured from the 50Hz Consortium of Europe even while deliveries of the WAG1 were still underway. Only the shell of the locomotive was built by Henschel and not the entire loco as is wrongly attributed at many places. Ten units were imported and were all used on the Eastern Railway. These were essentially the same WAG1 locos with their B-B monomotor bogies and all but with a different set of traction motors again as IR was ever on the lookout for more and more power. The traction motors for the WAG3 were two units of Alstom MG1580A1 which output 23% more top power than the WAG1. With the WAG3, we had acquired three different classes of locomotives together totaling 167 in number in a timespan of 3-4 years, ! And out of all of them, it was the diminutive WAG3 that was chosen to be mass-produced in India! All WAG3s are of course scrapped today.

Drive: Two Alstom MG1580A1 DC traction motors, fully suspended, connected to the wheels by a Quill drive, controlled by a tap-changer and silicon-controlled rectifiers and “field weakening”.

WAG 4

  • New loco based on the WAG31980-1-31-90004-Howrah-WAG4-20955
  • Assembled in India at CLW
  • Production Period: 1966-1971
  • Number Produced: 186
  • Top Power Rating: 3950 hp
  • Top Rated Speed: 80 kph
  • Wheel Arrangement: B-B
  • Wt: 87t; TE: 30t; AL: 20t

The WAG4 was supposed to be the freight locomotive that would power India forward, built by CLW in India as the result of the experiments of the past 6 years with the WAG1, WAG2 and WAG3. It was based on the WAG3 and not the WAG1 which had the most numerical strength, not only because of its higher power output but mainly for the MG1580A1 Alstom traction motors for which by that time CLW had acquired manufacturing rights through a transfer of technology agreement, making those the first traction motors to be manufactured in India. The WAG4 became only the second electric locomotive to be manufactured in India after the WAM1, though technically it was only “assembled” in India as most of the components were still supplied by the 50Hz Group at the beginning but were gradually indigenized. The WAG4 was almost identical to the WAG3 in every way with their monomotor B-B bogies, rheostatic braking, silicon rectifiers and tap-changer control. However they like their predecessors will still low-powered and could only tow 2000t of freight on gradient-less ground. CLW built 186 of them in just 5 years but abruptly stopped their production in 1971. WAG4D stood for “Dual Brakes”. All seem to have been scrapped now.

Drive: Two Alstom MG1580A1 DC traction motors on two 2-axle monomotor bogies, fully suspended, connected to the wheels by a Quill drive, controlled by a tap-changer and “field weakening”.

WAG 5

NKJ WAG-5 HE Twins at Whitefield.

  • Modified version of the WAM4 created by CLW
  • No relation to any of the previous WAGs
  • Production Period: 1978-1998
  • Number Produced: 1194
  • Wheel Arrangement: Co-Co
  • Top Power Output: 4390 hp
  • Top Speed: 100 kph
  • Wt: 119t TE: 33.5t AL: 20t

The WAG5 was the result of a number of lessons IR and CLW learned about designing freight locomotives from their experiences with the WAG1/2/3 locos, mainly that high adhesion power (tractive effort) is useless without high motive power. The initial WAG locomotives were deemed failures as the gamble of adopting monomotor bogies by trading power and torque for higher adhesion and lighter traction equipment weight didn’t pay off when the Bo-Bo bogies performed poorly, especially on gradients, as they were too underpowered and required multiple-mu’ed operation which also brought down the number of available locos. And then came the rise of the WAM4 class which just after a year of its launch had become a runaway hit, and with that adding to all the performance factors, IR must’ve decided to abruptly end production of the WAG4 and focus on the WAM4 instead. And then, sometime in 1978, someone decided to modify (re-gear) the WAM4 to specifically haul freights, resulting in the WAM4B. The WAM4Bs turned out to be such great performers that they decided to make it a class, and the WAG5 class was born! Though they were created by CLW, BHEL also turned out some of them.

ASN WAG5 #23183

Yes, the WAG5 class despite its name had nothing to do with any of the previous WAG classes. Instead, it was a re-geared, modified and more powerful version of the biggest electric success story of the Indian Railways, the WAM4. The WAG5 featured all that made the WAM4 great, especially those classic ALCO asymetric trimount bogies, Alstom TAO659 traction motors and silicon rectifiers. By then CLW was manufacturing Alstom TAO 659 traction motors under technology transfer agreement from Alstom, but problems with it prompted them to opt for another traction motor design from Hitachi, the HS15250 which was also manufactured in India under ToT. Even later, IR adopted the roller suspension of the Hitachi TMs as suspension for some Alstom TAO TMs, and the WAG5s using this arrangement came to be known as WAG5 TAOCHI in a very zen-like sounding manner.

WAG5s come in a bewildering array of subtypes just like the WAM4 with the letters denoting everything from traction motor type to rheostatic braking, the most common ones being WAG5A for those with Alstom motors, WAG5H for Hitachi motors, WAG5HA for WAG5s fitted with high adhesion bogies, WAG5P denoting passenger duties. However, but these letters are not part of any official classification but rather used as identification markers by individual workshops. Hence not all WAG5s with Alstom motors might be marked WAG5A and so on. The first WAG5 was a converted WAM4B #21103 turned out in December 1978, the first “built as” WAG5 was #21139 and #23000 the first WAG5 to be built to its set specifications.

Twin Valsad WAG5 locos

Earlier WAG5s looked exactly like the WAM4 with circular windows on the side, while later ones have sides that look exactly like the WAP4. BHEL turned out 74 WAG5s from #24001 to #24074, denoted WAG5HB, with #27074 being the last WAG5 produced. Sheds were allowed to paint them in any scheme they wanted, like diesel locomotives, which resulted in a colorful array of WAG5s, the most famous out of which is the “Barbie Doll” livery, though their standard livery was chocolate brown with a narrow yellow band running around them. Like its inspiration, the WAG5 changed Indian Railways in many ways and became its most successful locomotive class until then with 1196 produced until it stopped in 1997, conversions included, more than double numbers of the WAM4, out of which 1145 are still in service (as of May 2016).

Drive: Six Alstom TAO 659 or Hitachi HS15250A DC traction motors on two six-axle ALCO trimount bogies, axle hung, controlled by a tap-changer and “field weakening”.

WAG 6

  • High power heavy haul prototypesWAG6
  • Three classes: A, B, C, all imported
  • Production Period: 1988
  • Number Produced: 18 (6 each)
  • Top Rated Power: 6110 hp
  • Top Speed: 100 kph
  • WA: Bo-Bo-Bo (6A,B), Co-Co (6BC)
  • Wt: 123t, TE; 45t, AL: ??

The WAG6 is another story of a very capable locomotive not used to its maximum potential, especially the WAG6A variant. Most people, even railfans do not even know of the existence of this unique, extremely powerful, technologically advanced (for its time) and fantastic-looking locomotive class because they were confined to services on only one line, the famous Kirandul-Kottavasala (K-K) line of the Waltair (Visakhapatnam) division of East Coast Railway. These rare locos were most powerful locos in India until the arrival of the WAG9 and still were only 200 hp less in their output compared to them, capable of hauling full freight loads at 100 kph! However, unlike how it might seem, the WAG6s weren’t bought in specifically for service on the K-K line but were another milestone in IR’s quest for the perfect freight locomotive.

By the mid 1980s, it was getting clearer that with the Indian economy ever growing since partial liberalization in the early 1980s, even the celebrated WAG5s were proving to be incapable of meeting India’s heavy freight needs, especially those of iron ore and coal. We needed newer locos again. So in 1987, IR invited multiple tenders for prototype locos as it was deemed that was better to test locos for performance in Indian conditions first before ordering them readymade in bulk as it was done until then. They received six prototypes each of three types.

ELS VSKP

First came the WAG6A from ASEA of Sweden (which would become ABB the next year). Their most defining feature was the Bo-Bo-Bo wheel arrangement (three two-axle bogies, all axles powered by individual motors), quite the novelty as until (and since) then, no Indian locomotive ever had more than two bogies. With their large, disjointed vertical trapezoidal windows, pairs of individual headlamps and long corrugated sides, they also looked unlike anything the Indian locomotive scene had seen, a huge departure from the seen-and-tired SCNF design philosophy. The WAG6Bs from Hitachi also featured Bo-Bo-Bo WA but were mostly the same old looking as the WAGs until then. Hitachi also delivered the WAG6C which had Co-Co wheel arrangement and everything else identical to the WAG6C. The biggest common feature of the WAG6 class was the presence of vestibule doors on the cabs of the locomotives, so when two were connected you you could step between locos without getting off! Needless to say, these were very rare, very elusive and almost impossible to spot unless you went to Visakhapatnam and camped out there for days on end with the explicit goal of spotting a WAG6.

IR accepted all three types but decided to go ahead with neither. It is not known why, maybe because issues with the WAG5 was sorted out and GTO Thyristor and IGBT technologies were catching up by then and IR wanted to stay ahead by adopting these latest technologies. The WAG6s were all given to Visakhapatnam ELS and were put to service on the iron ore belt. As of today, all WAG6As are retired from service and all but the first two (#26000 and #26001) have been scrapped. Two WAG6Bs and three WAG6Cs also have been scrapped and the remaining are not as widely used as they were once. Since they were prototypes, ABB and Hitachi didn’t make spare parts for them and they started breaking down for want of spares. The engineers at VSKP, India’s largest electric loco shed tried their best but still couldn’t keep the locos running, forcing them to cannibalize broken down locos for parts for the working locomotives, but they served their capacity well for 30 years!

Marripalem

With their 123 tonne weight, starting tractive effort of 45 tonnes and 6110 hp power, all almost equivalent to the WAG9 (123/47/6350), made them capable of just about anything. The WAG6As were supposedly even upgradable to 160 kph top speed thanks to their fully suspended traction motors, but nobody was interested in exploring all this. We could’ve had a fleet of world-class class freight locos as powerful as the WAG7 and as fast as the WAP5, a whole decade before either entered service, but instead they were wasted away running up and down a 200-km stretch hauling BOXNs and BTPNs. They could’ve changed the face of the Indian economy if they were to be mass produced along with the WAG7 which would be unveiled just four years later.

Drives: WAG6A: Six ASEA L3M450-2 DC traction motors on three 2-axle bogies, fully suspended, connected to the wheels by a geared drive. WAG6B: Six Hitachi HS15555OIR DC traction motors on three 2-axle bogies, bogie mounted, connected to the wheels by a geared drive. WAG6C: Six Hitachi HS15256UIR DC traction motors axle-mounted connected by a WN drive. All three drives were controlled by Thyristors and microprocessors.

WAG 7

Evolution of WAG-7

  • The Most Successful Loco Class
  • Produced by CLW and BHEL
  • Production Period: 1992-2015
  • Number Produced: 1970
  • Top Rated Power: 5000 hp
  • Top Rated Speed: 100 kph
  • Wheel Arrangement: Co-Co
  • Wt: 123t, TE: 41.5t, AL: 20.8t

After around 40 years of experimentation, failures and frustration, Indian Railways finally got its freight locomotive formula right with the WAG7, the locomotive that turned out to be India’s silent engine of economical growth in its greatest years. The first WAG7 took birth in 1992 at precisely the time the Indian economy started its roaring growth, and powered the country on its growth journey for the next 23 years, silently working and toiling in the background, hauling coal, cement, steel, timber, grains, containers, petroleum and also express and passenger trains. The success story of the WAG7 is a great example of “try, try, try and you will succeed”.

The WAG7 was of course a modified version of the WAG5 and like how a son/daughter surpasses their parents’ achievements, the WAG7 trumped the WAG5 which until then was most successful loco class in India. The WAG7 featured most of the same electricals as that of the WAG5, except the transformer which was of the same specs as that of the WAP4: 5400 kVA. But what made the WAG7 the most successful loco class was IR/RDSO/CLW finally getting the equation between power and adhesion factor right. They developed brand new hi-tech fabricated (ALCO) high-adhesion bogies for the WAG7, developed completely in India, which gave it a lot of tractive effort (factor: 34.5%) at the cost of speed and tweaked the Hitachi HS15250 traction motors to create a ‘G’ variant that when always in parallel enabled the WAG7 to 14% more power and thereby haul 21% more tonnage (2375t vs 3010t) than the WAG5.

ED WAG7 #28028

CLW initially used the same old WAG5 shell for the WAG7 too and all WAP7s were painted in a uniform livery of blue with a yellow band around their middle. Until then all sheds could paint their locos in any color scheme they wanted. Maybe this was to differentiate WAG7s from the SNCF types or maybe it was the result of the IR’s “uniformity” policy, where some imagination-challenged bureaucrat decided that all trains must look the same and started mass-painting everything blue, and WAG7s ended up looking blue WAG5s. Then in 2007 someone had the brainwave of putting WAG7s in WAP4 shells, and so 15 years and 894 WAP7s later, #27895 became the first WAG7 in a WAP4 shell. Now WAP7s looked like blue WAP4s which were orange, though it would be another 200 more locos before the WAP4 shell would become the standard for the WAG7. Two years later, to keep up with the demand BHEL also began building WAP7s and painted them in a red-white-blue livery with a faceplate of alternating angular white and red bands. WAG7s sporting this livery are called WAG7 ‘Tigerface’. BHEL produced 199 WAG7s (#24501 to #24700), all Tigerfaces in WAP4 shells. BHEL never made any conventional shell WAG7s, the Tigerfaces seen in WAG5 shells are CLW made WAG7s repainted in Tigerface livery.

tiGer :)BHEL Beauties

Fun fact: Blue and Orange are complimentary (opposite) colors on the color spectrum, they cancel each other out! Makes sense, since the WAP4 and WAG7 are the antithesis to each other and sport almost the same configurations but are used for opposite purposes, making them the evil twins!

The first 71 WAG7s produced were all sent to the Mughalsarai shed of ECR. The WAG7 wasn’t just a runaway success but a flyaway success with a whopping 1970 of them produced in 23 years, the last one #28770 turned out from CLW on September 24 2015 as part of the decision to end production of all conventional rectifier and tap-changer controlled DC motor locomotives. The WAG7 also has a huge handicap just like the WAP5 of being unable to start on gradients that have more than 1:200 grade incline when hauling loads in excess of 4500 tonnes. However, there are still more than 1950 of these in service and will be around for many more years to come! You will still see them everywhere, because out of every three electric locomotives in India, one is a WAG7!

Drive: Six Hitachi HS15250G DC traction motors on two 3-axle fabricated bogies, axle hung, directly drives the wheels, controlled by tap-changer and field weakening.

Tiger face WAG 7 in the BHEL WAP 4 shell

WAG 8

Nothing much on this one. The WAG8 was an experimental class built by BHEL, a prototype that consisted of maybe two locos that shared all the characteristics of the WAG7. The two possibilities were that BHEL was looking to find an upgrade for the WAG7, but that is unlikely since the WAG7 had been in production for only 4 years. The more probable option is that the WAG8 was never meant to be a WAG but a WCAM, since it is reported that it even looked like one, and that was the time when BHEL was building the WCAM3 for CR, a class that shares WAG7’s trademark high-adhesion bogies. So this in all possibility could’ve been a WAP7 being turned into a prototype aimed at eventually developing into the WCAM3 or if it didn’t maybe had a possibility of growing into a class of its own like the WAM4B transformed into the WAG5. The best guess is that it did turn into the WCAM3. The WAG8s probably never even left BHEL premises.

WAG 9

  • India’s Most Powerful Locomotive 31411-KYN
  • Made by ABB in Australia/Switzerland
  • Period of Production: 1997+
  • Number Produced: 400+
  • Power Rating: 6350 hp
  • Top Speed: 100 kph
  • Wt:123/135t; TE:41/51t; AL:20t

The years from 1987 to 1994 were a watershed for Indian Railways locomotive scene when the most number of indigenous locomotives were successfully developed in India: WAG5, WAG7, WAP4, WCAM3. Despite all these successes, fundamentally they were all still outdated and far behind the rest of the world which had long since moved on to more efficient, high-powered locomotives with three-phase AC traction motors, GTO Thyristor/IGBT based traction motor control and microprocessor based locomotive control technologies and so on while we were still stuck with lesser efficient silicon rectifiers, DC traction motors and tap changers. We couldn’t go on tweaking the WAM4 for more power forever, we needed something radically new. In July 1993, a contract was awarded to ABB of Switzerland for new high-powered locomotives with 3-phase AC traction motors and GTO/IGBT Thyristor control, 22 freight and 11 passenger, with transfer of technology agreements to enable further production in India at CLW. This was the beginning of the 3-phase era of Indian locomotive history, making the WAG9 another Swiss gentleman to serve the Indian Railways after the WAP5 and of course, India’s very first electric locomotive the WCP1.

ABB’s engineers worked really hard to design and deliver India’s first modern three-phase locomotives. The first shell of the WAG9 was designed and finished at the ABB Dandenong plant in Australia and was transported by an Antonov 124 to Switzerland, where all electricals, bogies and other stuff produced at various other places were assembled into the empty bodyshells at ABB’s Tramont facility near Zurich. After extensive tests the loco was then transported by truck, barge and ship to India, where it arrived in Calcutta in early 1997, the second 3-phase loco in India after the WAP5. Six WAG9s (#31000 to #31005) were imported into India fully made while 14 more (#31006 to #31021) were assembled at CLW from body shells and kits imported from ABB Australia and Switzerland. Then CLW started manufacturing WAG9s on its own and on November 18 1998, WAG9 #31022 “Navyug” became the first completely “Made in India” three phase locomotive, literally marking the beginning of a new era as the name tells us!

LGD WAG9 31251 with empty rake of machilipatnam

But even all this power wasn’t enough for CLW. Pretty soon they proposed increasing the tractive effort of the WAG9 by ballasting the loco frame. The result was the WAG9H #31030 “Navshakti” at 132 tonnes, 12 more than the original WAG9. However it never entered regular service in that form and was soon reverted to its previous build. The first WAG9H to enter regular service was one Indian Railways’ most unique and rarest locos, WAG9H #31086 glamorously named “Doctor Silver“, painted a deep red with a white band instead of the regular WAG9 green and yellow. In addition to the extra weight, it also had some kind of cellular-network enabled remote diagnostics and tracking features. Later on, all WAG9s were turned out as WAG9H. The WAG9 was first propelled by 3-phase asynchronous (induction) traction motors controlled by GTO Thyristors. Later, Thyristors were replaced by IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) technology (basically, the good old transistor capable of working at very high voltages), which made the locomotives smoother, lighter, cooler and more efficient as switching was faster and the devices themselves required lesser current. WAG9H #31281 was the first to feature IGBT-controlled AC drive and was classified WAG9HI. Today, all WAG9 locos produced are WAG9HI,the most powerful Indian locomotive class today by any standard.

Though overshadowed by the WAP5, the WAG9 was the real star of the ABB contract and program, because it showed India what real,raw, brutal and efficient power is all about. How powerful is the WAG9HI? Apart form the 6350 hp it puts out, its weight provides it with insane starting tractive efforts of 51 tonnes, making it capable of hauling up to 10800 tonnes of cargo from start to at 70 kph on level ground (that is 118 BOXNL wagons fully loaded), more than 8300 tonnes on gradients steeper than 1/500, 5500t on 1:200 gradients (1000t more than the WAG7) and even 1975 t on 1/50 gradients! (source)

Drive: AC Drive. Six ABB 6FRA 3-phase AC asynchronous traction (induction) motors on two 3-axle fabricated bogies, axle-mounted, controlled by GTO Thyristors or IGBT VVVF drive and microprocessors.

And here is Dr.Silver!

And here is Dr.Silver!

Dr.Silver’s unique livery was designed by Mr.Samit Roychoudhury, veteran IRFCA member, catrographer and author the super-awesome “The Great Indian Railway Atlas“, a must buy for any Indian rail traveler (and others too)! Picture courtesy and copyright: Samit and IRFCA.

A Note on Gradients: The ability to tackle gradients is a major factor determining the performance factor of locomotives. Starting up on even a tiny gradient of just 1 degree from level (1 in 100 grade) will require double the power compared to if the locomotive were starting up from level. The WAG5 and WAG7 cannot handle grades more than 1 in 200. This is where the WAG9 scores as it can handle a maximum gradient of 1/50 (3%). Any gradient more than this will require bankers to help push or pull the train up the slope. The steepest climb on conventional Indian Railways is the Braganza Ghats (Dudhsagar) with a 1:37 gradient and hence the famous Pentaheaded WDG trains of SWR. Nilgiri Mountain Railway has a 1:25 average gradient, requiring a rack-and-pinion operation to pull the train up the mountain. However this is only for starting, running trains will be troubled not as much by gradients as their momentum will help them coast up and past the slope. Passenger trains are usually less affected by gradients as they weigh much lesser compared to freights, but still need bankers for grades more than 1:50.

Thus we have reached the end of the long evolutionary line of Indian Railways’ most important, prolific and extraordinary class of locomotives whose hard work is the “thicker” of the blood that is the lifeline of the nation. As India’s freight needs only keep on increasing there will be many more WAGs to come for sure, because even the WAG9 is relatively underpowered by international standards where freight locomotives are regularly rated at around 10000 hp! Let us hope that we will soon see such a locomotive or a (800 of them) in India!

Up next, we will check out the most visible stars of the Indian Railways, the WAP class!

P.S. Due to my limited knowledge, there might be mistakes in this post. Everyone is welcome to suggest corrections! We don’t want the world to learn wrong things, do we now? 🙂

More Chapters on Indian Locomotives

Locomotives of the Indian Railways | Locomotives Terminologies and Design

How Locomotives are Classified | How Electric and Diesel Locomotives Work

DIESELS: The WDM Series (ALCOs) | The WDP and WDG Series (ALCOs and EMDs)

ELECTRICS: DC and AC/DC Locos | The WAM Series (AC mixed) | The WAG Series (AC Freight)

Photo Credits (All pictures are owned with full rights by their respective owners)

wag1

WAG1 #20710 “Bidhaan”
Jimmy Jose
IMG_0943
wag2
WAG2 #20844
Peter Schoeber
7720 Dhaulpur 6 december 1990

WAG1 #20710 “Bidhaan”
Jimmy Jose
wag4
WAG4 #20955
tisdalem2001
Howrah-WAG4-20955
wag5s
WAG5HE #24439
monidhoni15
NKJ WAG-5 HE Twins at Whitefield
wag5
WAG5 #23183
Akshay Gupta
ASN WAG5 #23183
BarbieDollWAG5
WAG5 #23971
Lakshman Thodla
Twin Valsad WAG5 locos
wag6raam
WAG6 #26014
Raam Krrish
VSKP WAG-6 26014
wag6a
WAG6A #26005
Viswa Chandra
Marripalem
wag6a
WAG6A #26005
Viswa Chandra
Marripalem
wap7s
WAG7 #28256
Ankit Bharaj
Evolution of WAG-7
WAG7BOXN
WAG7 #28028
Akshay Gupta
ED WAG7 #28028
wag7tigerface2
WAG7 #27410
Ujjawal™
tiGer 🙂
wag7tigerface
WAG7 #24540
Ujjawal™
BHEL Beauties
wag7
WAG7 #24501
Siddhartha Ganesh
wag9
WAG9 #31411
Vivek Manvi
31411-KYN
wag9_2
WAG9 #31251
Lakshman Thodla
31411-KYN
DrSilver
WAG9H #31086
Samit Roychoudhury
IRFCA

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