To attract more containers to the rail mode, the Indian Railways has notified a discount of five per cent in the freight rates charges to the container train operators (CTOs), which will be valid for the remaining part of the fiscal. These discounts, which set in from August 04 this year, will be valid till April 30 next year.

This is another step in a series of measures that the Indian Railways has taken to get more freight onto its fold, at a time when India is facing lower demand during COVID-19 pandemic. This also fits into India’s overall scheme to lower the logistics costs. These steps are being taken in the pandemic year when the Railways is increasingly having to bank on freight movement for its revenues.

The move, however, does not satiate the private CTOs who had wanted to waive off of entire haulage charges on movement of empty containers. The Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO) had sought continuation of waiving off-of haulage charges for moving empty boxes. While welcoming the move, a container train operator told, “Most of the private container train operators are burning cash. This move will lower the extent of cash burn. But there is an export-import imbalance. For every 90 boxes (sized twenty-foot equivalent unit) of exports, there are 30 boxes for imports.”

The Indian Railways, which had not been able to load extra cargo since the last week of March when the COVID-19 triggered lockdown set in, has seen a trend reversal since last few days. Extra goods against the same day last fiscal were loaded on July 27. On a day-to-day basis, the national transporter had been loading more cargo than the previous fiscal since the last week of July.

Railways has also introduced newer incentives like allowing 40 per cent discount in movement of ‘salt for industrial use’ and ‘cement bags’ in open and flat wagons, provided customers agree to bear the full risk of damage or pilferage of the consignment. The discounts came into effect from August 05 and 08, respectively.

The transporter has also permitted loose/bulk loading for ‘fly ash’ for three types of wagons, such as open wagons- 40% concession on NTR of applicable class with packing condition of bagged or bulk/loose, for flat wagons- 40% concession on NTR of applicable class with packing condition as bagged, and covered wagons- which will be charged at NTR of Class LR1 with the packing condition as bagged. These instructions are effective from August 08, 2020.

Railways has also relaxed stabling charges applicable @ Rs 525/- per wagons per day, hence no stabling charge shall be levied in case of container traffic from May 18 to October 31, 2020.


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