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Railways Starts RORO Service To Carry Trucks, Unclog Delhi Roads
Indian Railways have got cracking in implementing the proposals outlined in this year’s Budget
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced the launch of Freight and Passenger Business Action Plan 2017-18. This is the first major initiative after the railway Budget was merged with the General Budget and presented on February 1 this year. As per the action plan, Indian Railways (IR) will develop a new delivery model in order to expand its freight and container business. Termed as "Roll On-Roll-Off (RORO) model, IR is proposing to decongest Delhi by limiting the entry of trucks which in turn will reduce the air and noise pollution in Delhi.
Under the proposed plans, trucks/commercial vehicles will be loaded on to railway flat wagons which will carry them across Delhi saving 8-10 hours of transit time since there is a ban on the entry of commercial vehicles in Delhi during day time. For the truck operators, this service will help them save the environment compensation charge (ECC)-around Rs 1400-2600, and toll tax to enter Delhi - Rs 500 - 900. According to IR estimates, over 66,000 trucks enter Delhi daily of which around 25,000 are heavy trucks and around 15,000 are not destined for Delhi.
"This model would substantially reduce the air pollution across NCR, which causes severe health hazards. RORO services can provide an option to these heavy and light commercial vehicles to bypass Delhi," Prabhu tweeted after lauching the action plan. The RORO services were first started on Konkan railways and then proliferated to Eastern-Central railway and Northern frontier railways.
According to railway minstry, quoting a study by the the centre for science and environment, vehicles entering Delhi spew close to 30 per cent of the total particulate load. "This model would provide movement of trucks in day time,which was restricted earlier from 7 am-11 pm," Prabhu said in his Tweet.
As a result of the proposals, the shares of rail-linked stocks of companies including Titagarh Wagon and Texmaco Rail soared by five to six per cent around 10:30 am on March 2, 2017. Outlining the IR outlook for 2017-18, Prabhu said IR will offer discounts on the long-term freight contacts (3-4 years), which will range between 1.5 per cent and 35 per cent as per incremental growth in gross freight revenues. IR, the minister said, is also looking at launching a freight train to neighbor Bangladesh. For passengers, work is on for an Aadhaar-based ticketing systems and of course digitising selected railway stations.
As is known now, for FY-18, the total capital and development expenditure has been pegged at Rs 131,000 crore (which includes Rs 55,000 crore provided by the Government). Finance minister Arun Jaitley had said while presenting the budget a little over one month ago. Jaitley had said railways will focus on four major areas in 2017-18: passenger safety; capital and development works; cleanliness; and finance and accounting reforms.
Safety: With a spate of recent train derailments, it was obvious that the Budget will focus on passenger safety. And it did. Jaitley has already announced the creation of a ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of 5 years. But here is the catch. The government will only provide a seed capital for this fund, the rest the railways will need to arrange from its own revenues and other sources. But what will happen till this safety fund becomes operational? IR will now need to eliminate all unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines by 2020.
Modernisation: In the next 3 years, the throughput of Indian Railways is proposed to be enhanced by 10 per cent through modernisation and upgradation of identified corridors. Railway lines of 3,500 km will be commissioned in 2017-18, as against 2,800 km in 2016-17. At least 25 stations are expected to be awarded during FY-18 for station redevelopment and 500 stations will be made differently-abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators. IR to feed about 7,000 stations with solar power in the medium term. Work will be taken up for 2,000 stations as part of 1000 MW solar mission as well.
Stay Competitive: IR has been tasked with the responsibility to stay competitive so that it retains its position of pre-eminence. “Railways will implement end-to-end integrated transport solutions for select commodities through partnership with logistics players, who would provide both front and back end connectivity,” the Finance Minister had said in his budget speech. Railways will need to customise its rolling stocks and practices in order to transport perishable goods, especially agricultural products. “Railways will offer competitive ticket booking facility to the public at large,” he had said.
Therefore, the initiatives announced on March 2 by the railway minister, are in line with the broad outline presented during the merged Budget presented on February 1.