Railways pushes for increased share in automobile transportation

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New Delhi | Published: April 28, 2018 12:08:39 AM

It has also ordered 20 car-carrier rakes (each having capacity of 360 cars) to tap the traffic, apart from urging private operators to induct rakes. The transporter will also liberalise its routes.

It has also ordered 20 car-carrier rakes (each having capacity of 360 cars) to tap the traffic, apart from urging private operators to induct rakes. The transporter will also liberalise its routes.It has also ordered 20 car-carrier rakes (each having capacity of 360 cars) to tap the traffic, apart from urging private operators to induct rakes. The transporter will also liberalise its routes.

Given the minuscule share of less than 10% in the country’s overall automobile transportation business, the Indian Railways (IR) has effected various changes in its car-carriage policy, including opening up of container depots for parking vehicles.

It has also ordered 20 car-carrier rakes (each having capacity of 360 cars) to tap the traffic, apart from urging private operators to induct rakes. The transporter will also liberalise its routes.

While railways has been providing the facility and taken various steps, these had limited results. Currently, IR has eight-nine rakes with capacity of 160 cars each and around eight rakes have been inducted by car makers or logistics companies.

Railways has been exploring ways to develop ‘auto terminals’ to facilitate easy loading and unloading of vehicles, a major hurdle faced as of now, given railway goods sheds have space constraint.

To take care of this issue, the transporter has decided to use 86 container depots across the country for loading and unloading of vehicles. “Creating new terminals will take time to come up, and so we have decided to open up container terminals which are gated areas with warehouses. These are all connected to both railways and roads,” said Mohammad Jamshed, member-traffic, Railway Board. He added that car makers can now only worry about the first mile and last mile, that is from manufacturing unit to container depots and from there to respective showrooms.

Railways has made some efforts in Farukhnagar, Wajalabad and Gurugram with limited impact. In 2014, Maruti Suzuki started using flexi deck auto-wagon rake with enhanced capacity from its manufacturing unit in Gurugram. In 2016, railways started time-bound ‘Auto Express’ from Gurugram which, apart from taking less time, promised to decrease carbon footprint.

From March 2018, Maruti has started loading rakes from Detroj near Ahmedabad. These have led to an 16% increase in traffic from automobiles in 2017-18 compared with the year-ago period and an 18% increase in earnings.

Experts believe that the facility will increase the flow of traffic to railways, decrease transportation cost for automakers given bulk compared with road transport and speed up the delivery process. “Apart from optimising the usage of container terminals, the move will also make hinterland accessible in lesser time as the network available will widen,” said Sridhar V, partner and practice leader, Grant Thornton.

To tackle the issue of rolling stock, apart from ordering rakes, railways has also urged private players to induct rakes as the rate has been slow in the past two years. “We have held meetings with private container operators, including Container Corporation of India, and they have shown interest. They have also been asked to induct car-carriers,” said Jamshed.

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