Wagon pool is an arrangement by which all wagons, except exempted by DWI, shall be made available for loading to any station. Individual railways own wagons in IR and thus wagon pool requires pooling of wagons of all the Zonal Railways. The utilization of wagons involves inter-railway movement and hence utilization of wagon pool is controlled and supervised by the DWI.
POOLED AND NON-POOLED WAGONS:
As various railway companies had evolved their own wagon designs, a wagon of lone railway system might not be considered safe or up to the standard by another railway company. To get over this difficulty, the IRCA evolved a system of examination of wagons at inter-change points by its own train examination staff, which system came to be known as "neutral train examination". Such wagons as conformed to a standard design and were considered fit to move freely between one railway and another were taken into the common "wagon pool". Special types of wagon meant to carry special cargo on a particular railway or wagons not conforming to the standard design were called "non pooled" and when loaded to an adjacent railway, were required to be returned immediately to the owning railway by the shortest route. Gradually the vast majority of wagons came to be "pooled". There is another category of wagons which might be of low capacity or of very old construction and maintenance. There was yet another category of wagons which might be of low capacity or of very old construction and maintenance not up to accepted standard which could only be used for specific internal movement within each railway and were known as "local traffic wagons". Such wagons were not acceptable in interchange.
The exchange of wagons at terminal junctions between one railway and another enables free movement of goods through to destination irrespective of the jurisdiction on which the originating and terminating stations might lie. With the nationalization of railways, the coordinating role of the IRCA has gradually been taken over by the Railway Board.
The working of the wagon pool may be compared to a bank advancing capital to a business. Each Railway contributes its own wagons to the pool which might be considered as equivalent to depositors keeping their money in bank accounts. In turn, each railway is authorized to draw out of the pool up to a certain number of wagons, depending upon its loading targets and the 'turn round time'; somewhat like the limit up to which a bank may allow an advance to a business firm. For this reason, as with the business firm's advance from the bank, the receipt of additional wagons from other railways through interchange, which adds to the wagon balance of the railways, is considered an additional loan from the pool and is accounted as a debit transaction, while the handing over or making over of wagons to another railway, which reduces the wagon balance, is considered as return of loan to the pool and is a credit transaction. Wagon holding beyond the target may be considered as so much not borrowing of wagons from the pool, and the objective must, therefore, be to achieve the targeted loading with as little borrowing as possible.
The Railway Board, by watching the wagon balance and the movement of broad streams of traffic through important interchange points can readily feel the pulse of operation and regulate it as necessary. That is why the fulfillment of interchange quotas between Railways is considered one of the most important operating performance indices. In a similar manner, interchange targets and wagon balance targets are set and monitored for each division.
Pooled target is set for the distribution of wagon resources among the railways on the basis of the level of loading, WTR and the requirement. Relative requirement and urgency of existing traffic also considered for distribution of wagon resources. Debit target is fixed if requirement of wagons is more and Credit target is fixed if excess wagons are owned called as Pooled Wagon Target.