NEW DELHI :
The Railways has operated its first-ever special parcel train to Bangladesh, transporting dry chillies from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district to the neighbouring country.
Farmers and merchants in and around Guntur area earlier transported dry chillies by road to Bangladesh in small quantities. During the lockdown period when they could not move this essential commodity by road, Railway officials approached the consignors and explained the facilities to transport the produce by rail, the national carrier said.
The dry chillies were then moved in bulk to Benapole in Bangladesh by rail through a Special Parcel Express on July 10.
It also helped in reducing the cost of transportation. Sending the chillies to the neighbouring country by road cost around ₹7,000 per tonne while the expense for carrying the same by goods trains has come out to be ₹4,608 per tonne.
"For the first time the Indian Railways loaded a special parcel train beyond the country's borders to Benapole in Bangladesh with dry chillies from Reddipalem in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh state," the railways said in a statement.
Guntur and its surrounding areas in Andhra Pradesh are well known for the cultivation of chillies. The quality of this farm produce is internationally renowned for its uniqueness in taste and brand.
For moving the consignment by goods trains, it is mandatory for farmers and merchants to mobilise the quantity in bulk — at least more than 1,500 tonnes in each trip.
"To mitigate this problem and to facilitate the rail users to move their quantities in small amounts, i.e. up to a maximum of 500 tonnes in each trip, Guntur Division of South Central Railway took the initiative and moved the Special Parcel Express to Bangladesh," the statement said.
"This has helped 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," it said.
Accordingly, one Special Parcel Express train consisting of 16 parcel vans moved to Benapole in Bangladesh on July 10, the Railways said.
It said each parcel van was loaded with 466 bags of dry chillies, weighing around 19.9 tonnes and the total weight carried by the Special Parcel Express was around 384 tonnes.
The cost per tonne for carrying by Special Parcel Express is ₹4,608 and which is very cheap and economical as compared to road transport which amounts to ₹7,000 per tonne, the statement said.
Through the COVID-19 crisis, the Railways has taken a series of steps to boost parcel train traffic.
Transportation of essential items like medical supplies, medical equipment, food, etc. in small parcel sizes are very important items needed for business as well as consumption purposes, it said.
In order to fill in this vital need, the 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, the national transporter said.
The total of 4,434 parcel trains have run between March 22 and July 11, it said.