Mission ‘Hungry For Cargo’ To Increase Railways’ Share In Goods Transportation

Railways has started “Mission Hungry for Cargo” targeting 45 per cent modal share in freight transportation from the current 27 per cent. In the past 50 years, a considerable portion of total traffic was taken away by road transport despite the Railways being the most efficient means of inland bulk transport. Market share of Indian Railways in goods transportation has reduced to only 27 per cent.

The national transporter is left with coal, cement and iron ore as only a few major commodities where railways commands bulk market share. However, even for this bulk traffic, Indian Railways is now facing the threat of high capacity road trailers and coastal shipping. Cement from Gujarat to south India, transportation of coal to power plants in Tamil Nadu has started from Paradip port.

Iron and steel plants have moved from rail to road due to smaller batches and timing of supply offered by road. In order to reverse the trend, the Railways has undertaken concerted efforts introducing new initiatives targeting 45 per cent modal share of railways in freight transportation from the current 27 per cent. Aiming at facilitating new traffic from road to rail, the Railways has set up business development units in each division which has helped it in capturing new streams of goods like salt, sand, stone, sugar, onion among others.

According to a senior Railway ministry official, a much higher increase in railway loading can, however, be achieved through providing better transportation services to customers. At present, the business is generated mostly through dedicated customer siding developed by big industries. Many times small industries avoid the investment in dedicated railway siding due to high capital cost and availability of land.

This is one of the major factors for losing the share of traffic by railways to the road. The official further said a new siding policy is being formulated to promote small and medium level industries. Since 2014, Railways has made high investments in infrastructure.

The present action plan focuses on completion of eastern and western freight corridors, completion of critical projects, 100 per cent electrification, upgradation of speed on golden quadrilateral, commissioning of train collision avoidance system (TCAS) and station redevelopment. Any customer can avail of the infrastructure if he can easily load/unload their consignment, preferably from their own warehouse. While it may not be possible to provide rail lines directly to customer godowns, it is possible that railway invests in developing multimodal hubs.

It is proposed that multimodal logistics hubs are created at each major city through Greenfield or Brownfield projects by converting existing goods sidings. These multimodal logistic hubs would be open for any customer to load their consignment rather than a siding dedicated to a particular customer.
Railways is the most important partner of PM Gati Shakti Mission, which aims to provide multimodal connectivity for reducing logistic cost in the country. The multimodal logistic hubs would provide integrated and seamless connectivity for movement of goods from rail to road and thereby facilitate last-mile connectivity and reduce the logistic cost and time for customers in line with PM Gati Shakti Mission.

Steps have been taken for delegating power at the divisional level for outsourcing loading/unloading and also for doorstep delivery.