Container train operators seek access to more goods sheds from Railways

Container train operators (CTOs) would like to access more goods sheds of Indian Railways so that they can send and receive containerised goods from a greater number of points. Such access will allow the movement of more containerised cargo through the railway network.

Out of the 1,232 goods sheds, only 258 are container rail terminals, the Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO) has said in a letter to the Railway Ministry. This means only about a fifth of the goods sheds across the country can be accessed by CTOs to pick and drop cargo from containers.

Additionally, the CTOs would like the Railways to allow them to pick up entire containers from the train and drop them off on container trucks — operators term this ‘lift-on, lift-off’ operations.

Permitting lift-on, lift-off would promote multimodal movement of cargo and also enable door-to-door operations, Kamlesh Gupta, ACTO President said.

At present, Railways permits such operations in 5 per cent of the 258 container terminals. From the remaining terminals, CTOs are supposed to load and unload cargo (packets or sacks) from within the containers while they are atop the wagon on the train.

Per Railways data, CTOs moved 35 per cent less cargo this April vis-à-vis April 2019 — both in terms of loading and offloading. Lift-on, lift-off can allow much movement greater across the country.

CTOs see an opportunity as the road sector continues to be in disarray across a large number of routes and segments amid the pandemic. In line with this, they have sought assistance from the Railways through policy measures. Among the requests is access to more terminals located along the western ports.