In an effort to maximise freight earnings in Covid times, the South Western Railway (SWR) would soon ferry 100 tonnes of tomato from Kolar in Karnataka to Danapur near Patna in Bihar, an official said on Saturday.
“About 100 tonnes of tomato will be ferried from the Kolar station to the Danapur junction in 10 rakes, comprising 10 closed wagons of 1-tonne capacity each,” SWR`s Bengaluru division manager Ashok Kumar Verma told IANS here.
As Kolar district is a major producer of tomatoes, the zonal division is working with the farmers and their APMC (Agriculture Producers Marketing Committee) to get the vegetable delivered at the station for loading in the wagons.
“We plan to run 1 rake of 10 wagons to transport 10 tonnes of raw tomato a day from Kolar to Danapur, covering the distance (over 2,000 km) in about 36-40 hours,” said Verma.
The zonal railway estimates to earn Rs 5.76 lakh per rake as additional revenue.
With regular passenger train services largely remaining suspended since March 25 due to Covid-induced lockdown and restrictions to contain the pandemic, the Railways is making optimal use of the free tracks by operating more goods and parcel trains across the country.
“Discussions are underway with the farmers and the APMCs to operate more freight trains to ferry other vegetables and fruits in large quantities,” said Verma.
The Bengaluru division also plans to run a special train to transport hard parcels containing non-perishable goods from Bengaluru to Howrah in West Bengal.
“We hope to generate Rs 7.5 lakh additional revenue per trip for ferrying general goods on the route,” said Verma.
The zonal railway also plans to modify the coaches which were converted into Covid care centres for transporting perishable goods like fruits and vegetables from Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubli or Belagavi across the state.
About 320 second class coaches were converted into Covid care centres and stationed on platforms at major junctions in the southern state to admit patients who tested positive and were asymptomatic, but could not be admitted to the state-run or private hospitals due to shortage of beds earlier.
The division is operating timetabled parcel express from Bengaluru to various destinations viz Howrah, Gorakhpur, Dimapur and New Delhi.
“Transporting commodities like hard parcels, perishables and livestock fetched Rs 24.42 crore from April to November,” Verma said.
Advance booking of space for parcels in special passenger trains being operated on select routes generated Rs 35 lakh till December 4, he said.
“We are also operating a Kisan Rail from Bengaluru to Nizamuddin East in New Delhi, carrying foodgrains and other agricultural commodities,” added Verma.
The zonal railway earned Rs 12.26 lakh by carrying 204 tonnes of agri-goods, including vegetables and fruits.