In its quest for customised freight operations, the Indian Railways loaded a special Parcel train with dry chillies from Reddipalem in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh state to Benapole in Bangladesh, for the first time ever.
Guntur and its surrounding areas in the state of Andhra Pradesh are internationally renowned for Chilly cultivation.
Prior to this, farmers and merchants in and around Guntur area have been transporting Dry Chillies by road to Bangladesh in small quantities which incurred costs of around INR 7000 per tonne. However, they were unable to transport this by road during the lockdown period.
As a consequence thereof, the Railway staff and Officials approached the consignors and explained the facilities to transport by Rail. Accordingly, they moved the dry chillies by rail in bulk through goods trains.
However, since it was mandatory for the farmers and merchants to mobilise the quantity in bulk i.e. at least more than 1500 tonnes in each trip while moving consignments by Goods trains, the Guntur Division of South Central Railway decided to move the Special Parcel Express to Bangladesh. This has, in return, enabled the farmers and merchants of Guntur to market their farm produce beyond the country border by transporting the Dry Chillies in small quantities through Special Parcel Express. This solved the problem of Rail wishing to move their quantities in smalls i.e., up to a maximum of 500 tonnes in each trip.
Accordingly, one Special Parcel Express train consisting of 16 Parcel Van moved to Benapole in Bangladesh. Each Parcel Van was loaded with 466 Dry Chillies bags, weighing around 19.9 Tonnes and the total weight carried by the Special Parcel Express is around 384 Tonnes. The cost per tonne for carrying by Special Parcel Express is INR. 4,608 which is considered economical as compared to Road transport, which would amount to INR 7,000 per tonne.
Indian Railways has relentlessly pursued the aim to boost parcel train traffic during the COVID-19 period.
In order to plug the gap in the need for transporting key essentials, Indian Railways has made railway parcel vans available for quick mass transportation by E-Commerce entities and other customers including State governments. Railways has been running time-tabled Parcel Special trains on select routes, to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential items and a total of 4434 parcel trains have run in this period, between 22nd March,2020 and 11th July, 2020, out of which 4,304 have been time-tabled trains.
Petrapole-Benapole land port accounts for 70 per cent of bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India.
After a temporary impasse, the trade between India and Bangladesh through the Petrapole-Benapole border in West Bengal recommenced on 5th July, as reported by officials.