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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Transporting Cargo - Box Trains

As you travel by there would a railway level crossing. Quite expectantly one would look out for the oncoming train – a goods train would chug out winding its way past.

One wonders what could be inside the goods wagons (if at all they are closed ones) – down South here, you might not have frequent opportunities of containers being hauled by. That could happen only if there is a inland container depot nearby. (Remember my recent article of fire in Tuglakabad ICD)
It is common knowledge that Indian Railways is one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting 20 million passengers and more than 2 million tonnes of freight daily. It employs around 1.6 million employees; closer to 7000 railway stations spanning close to 64000 kilo meters.

A goods train is the special train which hauls cargo wagons transporting bulk material and various others – sometimes intermodal containers. The economy of any country is dependent on movement of goods and we do not have any specialised cargo operation for container cargo by train.

Whilst it is not happening inside the Country, Europe is far different. Italy is located in Europe in the Italian peninsula of Southern Europe; Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia – strong in agriculture and manufacturing. Efficient transport is the lifeblood of the European economy. Fast and cheap delivery from factories in Europe is available – though road is the most preferred mode, the increasing traffic and congestion has lead to exploration of rail, sea and inland waterways both within and across European countries. One of the specialists in such logistics is Marco Polo which aims at improving the environmental performance of European freight transport, by freeing the roads.


It was reported in Press  (news source)  that a Belarusian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister is set to hold talks with Italy's Deputy Minister for Economic Development to discuss a wide range of topical issues of trade and economic cooperation, including a possibility to set up the Italian Industrial Area in the Brest Oblast. Last year the countries concluded agreement on launching Express Freight train known as Marco Polo Express freight train between Brest and Portogruaro.


This project envisages the transportation of goods from Italy to Belarus and in transit to the CIS and Baltic states and in the future to Scandinavian states, China, Korea in both directions. The first pilot train left Portogruaro on 9 March 2010. The train consisted of 24 carriages with 40-feet containers. The train arrived in Brest on 13 March. The cargo was then forwarded to other destinations by container trains of Belarusian Railways.


In the other part of the World, in the China’s central Jiangxi province similar thing occurred with the launching of empty container train service from Nanchang in China’s central Jiangxi province to Beilun port in February, the Port of Ningbo has started a loaded box train service on the same route. The inaugural train carried 96 TEU on 48 wagons with a transit time of 27 hours.


The freight train service is aimed at hinterland service expansion by the Port of Ningbo.


It is not the production alone that matter more is on the distribution channels and Countries with such far reaching vision would be way ahead of others when it comes to Export, logistics, earning foreign exchange and of course increased per capita earning and standard of living of its citizens.


With regards – S Sampathkumar.

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