Mission “Hungry For Cargo” to increase the share of railways in freight transport

The railways have launched the “Mission Hungry for Cargo” targeting a 45% modal share in freight transport, compared to 27% currently.

Over the past 50 years, a considerable share of total traffic has been carried by road transport while railways were the most efficient means of inland bulk transport.

Indian Railways’ market share in freight transport has shrunk to just 27%.

The national carrier is left with coal, cement and iron ore as the only few commodities for which the railways have wholesale market share.

However, even for this bulk traffic, Indian Railways now face the threat of high capacity road trailers and coastal cabotage. From the cement of Gujarat to South India, the transport of coal to the power stations of Tamil Nadu has started from the port of Paradip. Steel mills switched from rail to road due to smaller lots and the supply schedule offered by road.

In order to reverse the trend, the railways have made concerted efforts by introducing new initiatives targeting 45% of the railways’ modal share in freight transport, compared to 27% currently.

In an effort to facilitate new traffic from road to rail, the railways set up business development units in each division, which helped it capture new flows of goods like salt, sand , stone, sugar, onion, among others.

According to a senior official of the Ministry of Railways, however, a much greater increase in railway load can be achieved by providing better transport services to customers.

At present, business is mainly generated through dedicated customer service developed by large industries. Often, small industries avoid investing in dedicated rail sidings due to the high cost of capital and the availability of land.

This is one of the major factors in the loss of rail traffic to road traffic. The official further said that a new siding policy is being drafted to promote small and medium industries.

Since 2014, the railways have made significant investments in infrastructure. This action plan focuses on completing the Eastern and Western freight corridors, completing critical projects, 100% electrification, improving speed on the Golden Quadrangle, implementing service of the railway collision avoidance system (TCAS) and the redevelopment of stations.

Any customer can benefit from the infrastructure if they can easily load/unload their shipment, preferably from their own warehouse.

Although it is not possible to provide rail lines directly to customers, it is possible that the railway will invest in the development of multimodal hubs. It is proposed that multimodal logistics hubs be created in each major city through Greenfield or Brownfield projects by converting existing freight lanes.

These multimodal logistics hubs would be open to any customer to load their shipment rather than a dedicated siding for a particular customer.
Railways is the most important partner of PM Gati Shakti Mission, which aims to provide multimodal connectivity to reduce logistics costs in the country.

Multimodal logistics hubs would provide integrated and seamless connectivity for the movement of goods from rail to road and thereby facilitate last mile connectivity and reduce logistics costs and time for customers in line with the PM Gati Shakti mission.

Measures have been taken to delegate power to the departmental level for the outsourcing of loading/unloading and also for home delivery.

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