Facing an uphill task, Indian Railways has introduced a slew of measures to attract more goods loading amid the rapid falling freight share in the market.
Hitting the rail sector in an unprecedented way, the disturbing spread of novel coronavirus has reduced the daily loading to about 2.4 million tons from the 4 MT with continuous lower demand for coal, cement, fertiliser and petroleum products among other bulk goods.
With three weeks into the new fiscal and economy heading for contraction, Indian Railways is awaiting with bated breath for the graded response to the lockdown.
The national lockdown with its deep impact on Indian economy has drastically reduced the the state-run transporter’s earnings as there is no passenger service and low demand for freight.
According to data, the Railways hauled 14 per cent lesser goods in March against the same time last year.
With the downslide is still continuing in April, railways is offering various initiatives in an attempt to attract customers, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
There will be no charge for the movement of empty container and flat wagons while several additional charges will also not be levied permitting stationing of cargo for longer duration without paying penalties.
Smaller size trains can be moved for longer distances while parcel service has also been liberalised to attract more parcels even in small quantity.
In order to ensure optimal utilization of rakes, the distance restriction has now been relaxed to allow loading points to be apart upto 500 km, regardless of the season.
Railways also started running time-tabled parcel trains across the country moving milk products, medicines, food items, masks, fruits and vegetables, fish, wheat, oil, among others.
Minimum number of covered wagons used for bagged consignments like foodgrains, agricultural produce required to be loaded and now it has been reduced from 57 to 42 wagons now, with a view to support loading of essential items.
There will be no demurrage, wharfage, stacking charges in case of goods/parcel traffic and similarly detention charge and ground usage charge will not arise for container traffic.
Efforts have been made to ensure that farm products like foodgrains are picked up on time and also to ensure timely supply during the nationwide lockdown. The loading, transportation and unloading of these essential commodities has been in progress in full swing during the lockdown period. Close association is being maintained with Ministry of Agriculture.