The Union Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry has put Indian Railways in the fast lane while his policies to enhance automobile freight are helping OEMs achieve logistical and cost benefits.
What gives the Union Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry's brand of leadership an edge is that he is bereft of the halo that we are so used to seeing around political leaders. In his own words,”Politics is involved when you don’t tackle inefficiency and burden people with higher tariffs.” Perhaps, it is this ingrained connect with the grass root that helped him script one of the most dazzling success stories in 2020 — the evolution of Indian Railways. Work on the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) is underway in full pace and it is expected to unlock the true freight potential of the Railways, ensure faster and economical transportation of goods and spur job creation.
Key highlights of the past year
- All of 836 rakes of automobiles were loaded in the first half of the current fiscal (April to September 2020) compared to 731 rakes last year, up 14 percent.
l Compared to total automobile loadings of 429 rakes in FY2014, FY2020 saw a rise to 1,595 rakes.
- Around 52 railway terminals are now available for automobile loading and all private sidings, private freight terminals (PFTs) and inland container depots (ICDs) can handle automobile traffic.
- Goyal is now targeting a 20 percent share of auto freight traffic by the end of FY2022 and 30 percent by FY2024. On October 10, he met SIAM and captains of the automotive industry to assure them and gain business for Indian Railways by enhancing automobile loading and transportation using the cost-efficient rail freight operation.
India Auto Inc is finding good value in transporting its finished goods by the rail route rather than sticking to the conventional truck logistics model. Immediate benefits to OEMs include the Indian Railways’ expansive network, better reliability and cost efficiency compared to road logistics. Moreover, it also allows offsetting the carbon footprint as a single train can replace several trucks running on the road. For instance, in the case of Maruti Suzuki India, the company has saved 3,000 MT of CO2 emissions getting into the environment and 100 million litres of diesel by shipping over 670,000 cars by rail since March 2014.
That apart, the Railways under Goyal’s leadership have undertaken some long-term changes too. Some of these include increasing the number of NMG rakes to facilitate more transportation of cars and also export automobiles to neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal in NMG rakes. OEMs including Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Honda Cars India, Hyundai Motor India, Mahindra & Mahindra and newcomers like Kia Motors India are all taking advantage of the opportunity. It is clean, green and affordable with logistics and cost gains for OEMs.
Spectacled with an ever-smiling disposition, Goyal’s focus is constantly on enhancing quality at par with global standards and achieving maximum localisation of Indian industry. He believes that an, “Atmanirbhar Bharat is about bringing scale, quality, skill to India.” His commitment to ‘Make In India’ is all about creating a brand that commands respect and trust globally.
This was first published in Autocar professional's 16th Anniversary issue on December 15, 2020.