NEW DELHI: Concerned over waning freight revenue, Indian Railways Wednesday started the first time-tabled container train named 'Cargo Express' between Domestic Container Terminal, Okhla and Bengaluru which will reach the destination in 70 hours.
Railways held discussions with Container Train Operators for submitting proposals for introduction of time-tabled container train with the objective of attracting incremental volumes of container traffic to rail mode.
"Typically people used to think when will the goods train reach... you required an astrologer and needed to be lucky... now we are sure it will reach in particular time. We are taking responsibility and this is going to reduce the time by almost half," Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said during the launch of service.
Two pairs of time-tabled trains have been proposed by Container Corporation of India (Concor) to start with between Delhi-Bengaluru (2,278 km) and Delhi-Chennai (2,160 km). The transit time for both the services is of 70 hours on each side.
"A wide range of domestic piecemeal traffic is targeted for movement between these two pairs (terminals), notable among which are steel tubes, food grains, ceramic tiles, polished granite slabs, rubber latex, plywood boards, alloys, electronic goods, chemicals, cars and automobile spares," an official statement said.
Railway gets two-third of its income from freight services and it needs to find new sources of revenue in view of the competition it faces from road, air and other means of transports.
"Parcel is one of the growing businesses in the country. We have to work on that. If people are not coming to us, we will have to study why they are not coming to us," he said.
CONCOR estimates the volumes of containerized traffic in this sector to improve by 25-30 percent with the introduction of assured transit times which would be improving by 45 percent from present levels.
The Ministry also announced changes in Parcel Cargo Express Trains (PCET), including increasing duration of contract from three to six years.