Economy

Railways pushes ahead with wooing traffic from roads through higher use of boxes

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on June 18, 2020 Published on June 18, 2020

The important cities of India will get connected for transportation of essential and perishable goods   -  THE HINDU

The Railways has allowed “lift-on-lift-off” operations from its goods sheds with fewer conditions on Wednesday. Lift-on lift-off operations are use of equipment to pick up entire containers from wagons and put them on to trucks and vice-versa.

Permitting ‘lift-on, lift-off’ operations would promote multimodal movement — movement of cargo across different modes of transport — and also enable door-to-door operations, according to the Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO). The move would also help the Railways and container train operators to tide over the current labour shortage.

The container train operators had approached the Railways to allow them to pick up entire containers from trains and load them on container trucks.

Earlier, the conditions for permitting ‘lift-on lift-off’ operations at Railway goods sheds were much stricter. Only those terminals that handled less traffic or not more than seven rakes per line in a month were allowed to use ‘lift-on, lift-off’, as per the earlier Railways policy.

Starting from Thursday, Railways has allowed its commercial officials to take a call on the handling of full boxes between trucks and wagons. Moreover, the relaxation is valid till December.

They can permit such handling of cargo after studying existing traffic patterns at the terminal and future possibility of diverting cargo from road to rail. Such action, however, should not hold up wagons owned by Railways in those terminals.

At present, the Railways permits such operations in five per cent of the 258 container terminals, according to ACTO. From the remaining terminals, container train operators are supposed to load and unload cargo (packets or sacks) from within the containers while they are atop the wagon on the train using workers.

This move is an attempt by the Railways to garner a higher share of goods traffic movement, at a time when several lockdown-related restrictions are still in place. The Railways took a slew of measures post lockdown to woo back goods traffic from the road sector.

In May, the Railways handled 82 million tonne of cargo traffic, including coal, cement, iron ore , foodgrains, petroleum products and containers. Though this marked a recovery over April, it was still 22 per cent lower than the cargo handled in May 2019 and a seven-year low.

Cargo moved by Railways is an important indicator of economic activity in the country. Railway container movement in May was at 4 million tonne, a 19 per cent drop against the same period last year, according to Railways data.

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Published on June 18, 2020
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