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Topple without dust

How should coal cars be reloaded, EastRussia found out

Every year, in the Far East, tens of thousands of railway wagons are damaged when unloading bulk cargo, primarily coal, and special equipment — wagon dumpers — are used only by three large stevedores. Unlike environmental problems, this topic is not widely known, although grab cranes create prerequisites for the spread of coal dust. EastRussia figured out what needs to be done to make coal transshipment less harmful for rolling stock.

Topple without dust
Photo: Pavel Usov
In the Far East, out of approximately 20 stevedoring companies that are actively working with coal, currently only Vostochny Port JSC, Daltransugol JSC and Trade Posyet JSC JSC use car dumpers. Most stevedores unloads with grab cranes, which leads to mass damage to rolling stock (in 2016, more than 89 thousand cars were damaged in the region).

With such unloading, touches and impacts of the grapple - gripping mechanism - on the elements of the car body are allowed. As a result, there are various deformations and breaks in car parts. In stevedoring companies, in turn, indicate that the lion's share of rolling stock damage is of an easy nature, which the stevedores themselves qualitatively eliminate. 

Railway workers and regulatory authorities, in turn, insist that the damage to the car fleet is fraught with safety for train traffic, and also entails various kinds of losses associated with the downtime of "sick" cars, participants in the transportation process. In addition, the Far Eastern Railways had cases when, after repairs made by the port workers, the carriage had to be written off.  

Wagon tipping technology allows you to get away from this problem. The gondola loaded with coal enters the wagon tippler and is fixed on a platform with rails that leans about 160 degrees, dumping coal into underground bunkers. The car at this time safely hold the fencing walls and hydraulic clamps.



Administrative liability is provided for damage to the rolling stock. But as noted in Goszheldornadzor, the impact measures are not enough due to the imperfection of the regulatory framework. Back in 2011, the ministry tried to prohibit unloading operations at one of the Far Eastern enterprises, citing the fact that GOST 22235-2010 Freight carriages of mainline railways of gauge 1520 mm prohibit grab unloading. The demand was canceled by the Arbitration Court of the Khabarovsk Territory: the court had recognized that compliance with the GOST was possible on a voluntary basis. 

In addition, they are allowed grab unloading at the transition stage of the consignee to alternative rolling stock processing technologies. “But how much time this transition takes, the standard does not define. Of course, the acquisition of car dumpers is an expensive enterprise (the tandem car dumper from the Japanese Marubeni Corporation to the Eastern Port cost more than $ 7 million - EastRussia), not everyone can afford it. But there are other measures that are less costly, for example, organizing unloading through elevated racks, ”said a Russian Railways spokesman.

Recently, an environmental aspect has been added to this problem - it is during the open unloading of wagons using grabs that the bulk cargo becomes very dusty. With the growth of coal transshipment, the environmental situation in the port cities has deteriorated sharply, and now local authorities are trying to influence stevedores in terms of compliance with environmental legislation. Thus, Oleg Kozhemyako, acting governor of the Primorsky Territory, said that he intends to raise in the Russian government the question of the region’s participation in concluding lease agreements for sea berths, which are engaged in open coal transshipment. After the introduction of the rule, the region will be able to demand a revision of the terminal operation technology from stevedores.

Some companies have announced the transition to an alternative way to handle rolling stock. These are the Astafyev Terminal and the Nakhodka Commercial Sea Port (NCSP). The first plans to install a closed longitudinal warehouse with an automated control system, as well as reclaimers and wagon tippers with a capacity of up to 4,5 thousand tons per hour. At NCSP, the construction of new capacities will replace the existing section for unloading coal from the cars. The equipment for the car dumper has already been purchased, project documentation is currently being developed for the construction of the complex, the company said. “Now 80% in the structure of our cargo turnover is occupied by coal, and we understand that in the future this type of cargo will in any case continue to play an important role for us and our colleagues. At the same time, I firmly believe that ports should be engaged in its transshipment, in fact confirming a responsible approach to the environment and possessing the necessary specialized technologies, ”said Vladimir Grigoryev, general director of NCSP.

The companies that already use it are also betting on the car tipping equipment. In September of this year, Vostochny Port launched in test mode a new tandem car dumper at an additional, third, terminal line. After putting it into full operation, the annual turnover of a stevedoring company may increase from 25 million to 45 million tons of coal. The unloading equipment is similar to the one operating at the specialized coal terminal PPK-3 of the company. The complex consists of two tandem car dumpers capable of simultaneously unloading four open wagons with a total carrying capacity of up to 300 tons of coal. The cycle of unloading cars lasts only 2,5 minutes.

There are plans to build a third line for the Daltransugol company, which should result in an increase in transhipment capacity to 40 mln tons per year. In addition to the new pier and other equipment, the installation of a triple wagon tippler is planned.

Such equipment is provided for in the construction of new ports. In the Shkotovsky district of Primorye, JSC Holding Company SDS-Ugol intends to build a terminal with a capacity of at least 12 million tons annually in the northern part of Sukhodol Bay. It will be equipped with wagon tipplers, as well as defrosting devices, burrowing machines, which is important in the winter period, when coal often comes frozen. Modern equipment is provided in the port of Vera, which is being built in the same Shkotovsky district - at Cape Open. The first phase of the terminal (the project is implemented by RT-Global Resources LLC) is scheduled for launch in 2019. In the future, the complex will annually overload 20 million tons of coal.
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