Freight and Goods Services of the Indian Railways
The Indian Railways provides 6 different services. The passenger railways are the most widely used and sought after service. Then comes the freight services, which involves the carrying of goods from one part of the country to another. The parcel carrier service is also present, for the transport of mail. Another critical service is the Catering and Tourism sector, which takes care of bookings and other related services. Food-related services and tour booking are taken care by this department. The parking lot operations are also quite significant, owing to a large number of trains that are present at the various stations in the country.
There are approximately 13,000 passenger trains and 9200 freight trains. The average speed of the freight trains is significantly lower at 24 km/h as compared to the passenger and mail trains, running at 51 km/h. New facilities such as seat availability on trains, the live status of trains and pnr enquiry have been implemented on passenger trains. The freight services, however, seem to be lacking in advancement in recent years.
The Indian Railways ferries a wide array of commodities and fuels in the freight segment. Industrial, agricultural and consumer segments use these services to a large extent. Historically, the reason for the passenger trains being so cheap is that the ticket prices are subsidized with income from the freight services.
This, however, has its downsides. The freight services cannot compete with other modes of transports, both in speed and costs. As a result, the market share is continually eroding. To reverse this trend, several new initiatives have been taken by the Indian Railways. Some of them are given as follows.
- The current goods sheds have been upgraded, making them lighter to transport.
- Private capital and investment are being looked for, with the goal of building multi-modal logistics terminals, running freight trains according to a schedule or timetable, and experimenting with various container sizes.
- The roll-on, roll-off service, a railroad system that was spearheaded by the Konkan Railways in 1999 is also being implemented here.
- The most important of them all is the implementation of newly dedicated corridors for freight trains, which will be fully operational by 2020. Spanning nearly 3300 kilometres, trains of 1.5-kilometre length can be supported with the massive 32.5-ton axle loads. They can travel at a blazing 100 kilometres per hour, which is four times the present speed. Since this will also allow passenger trains to run more often, due to higher capacities, the IR can run even more trains, at higher speeds. It is expected to be a massive game changer in the next few years.
The Dedicated Freight Corporation of India
Also known as the DFCCIL is run by the Ministry of Railways. They are responsible for planning and development of the freight services, mobilizing financial resources, operating and maintaining the Dedicated Freight Corridors. IT was founded in 2006 and has played a vital role in the development of other Government of India schemes. These include the Make in India, BharatNet, UDAN-RCS, Digital India, and UMANG.