The first Quarter of the current financial year (April-June) has thrown up for Indian Railways as most of the passenger trains are still off the tracks resulting in a major shortfall in revenue. To make up for the loss in revenue, various innovative measures were taken since the country-wide lockdown began in March,2020.
One of such innovation was to run hundreds of parcel trains, just like passenger trains, with a fixed time-table. These trains have become immensely popular among both long-distance and short-distance transporters for being cost-effective and time-efficient. N F Railway has operated 355 such parcel trains during May-June alone carrying more than 1.1lakh quintals of goods, generating Rs 5 Crore as revenue. This has helped to maintain the supply chain of essentials, food items, dairy products, vegetables etc.during the current pandemic.
Since the beginning of lockdown till 27th July, 4541 such parcel trains were run in Indian Railways carrying 2.41 Lakh tonnes of cargo. This has resulted in collection of Rs 87 Crore as revenue. To facilitate customers and increase traffic in such parcel trains all zonal railways have constituted dedicated team of officials. This team, called Business Development Unit (BDU) will act as single-window mechanism for small and medium business and industries. Indian Railway is now planning to provide End-to-end Logistic Services in parcel business by gradually moving away from leasing of parcel space in trains to private operators with introduction of on-line booking of parcel space in trains of choice(on first- come-first-serve basis) at pre-determined freight rates.
With this aim, all ZonalRailways have been asked to identifying stations where dedicated Parcel terminals can be set up by separating parcel traffic from passenger platforms. This will provide space to parcel-handling agencies, for stacking and processing of their cargo.The RailwayMinistry had discussions with major E-commerce players and parcel aggregators on29th June to formulate policy in this direction.
Initially, Indian Railway is planning to collaborate with Deptt of Posts for providing end-to-end logistics solutions to parcel customers at 7 locations (Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur,Nasik, Akola, Solapur, & Kolhapur) over Central Railway and gradually expand it to other locations in all-India level. To provide the first-mile and last-mile connectivity for such parcel traffic, service agents will be appointed and the list of such agencies will be available on-line. Customers will be able to choose a suitable agency for handing over their parcels.