Indian Railway has registered growth in automobile traffic with more than 10-fold increase in modal share in domestic transportation of small passenger cars during the last eight years.
While in 2021-22 the railways carried 3,344 rakes loaded with passenger cars, 2,206 rakes were being loaded till August this year.
The railways, being a cleaner mode of transportation, not only helps automobile industry to quickly transport bulk volumes over long distances, but also gives the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint.
Automobile traffic through Indian Railways has witnessed a tremendous growth during the recent past. This growth in automobile traffic has been the result of various initiatives such as availability of specialised privately-owned wagons.
On the basis of the issues raised by the stakeholders in the automobile industry, including Society for Indian Automobiles Manufacturers (SIAM), the Automobile Freight Train Operator (AFTO) policy has been liberalised from time to time. It allows automobile manufacturers to own their specialised wagons for their needs.
In order to accommodate SUV cars, new design of auto-carrier wagons is being finalised in Research Design and Standards Organisation in addition to existing wagons.
To facilitate loading/unloading of automobiles, design-modification to the existing NMG (new modified goods) wagons is also under execution based on the suggestions received from investors/logistics providers.
Also, for increasing short lead traffic, freight rate has been revised for specially designed wagons up to 1,200 km. More terminals are being opened up for automobile traffic as per demands of the industry.
Presently, Indian Railway has a fleet of 90 NMG rakes. In addition, 43 special rakes have been inducted by approved train operators under AFTO scheme.
The volume of transportation of small passenger vehicles (cars) by the railways has increased during the first five months of the current financial year.
According to the railways’ data, modal share in domestic transportation of passenger vehicles in 2013-14 was 1.50 per cent, which rose to 2.08 per cent in 2014-15. It was 3.62 per cent in 2015-16 and 4.13 per cent in 2016-17.
Gradually it increased to 4.50 per cent in 2017-18, 7.06 per cent in 2018-19, 11.17 per cent in 2019-20, 14.71 per cent in 2020-21. In 2021-22, the modal share has increased to 16 per cent.
According to the railways, these are estimates based on transportation of cars only. Domestic traffic of two-wheelers and commercial vehicles have not been taken into account.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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