Concerned over falling exports, the Indian government is planning container trains for import-export cargo. The first step will be to cut down the time taken to move freight traffic. Travelling from Delhi to Mumbai by Rajdhani takes 16 hours but when it comes to a container train, the same journey takes three times longer which increases the cost and makes it uncompetitive. The Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor, once ready, will cut the travel time drastically. But that will take another three years.
Studies have shown that it costs almost the same to move goods from Punjab to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and from Mumbai to China. That gives a huge advantage to exports from Thailand or Malaysia, which are not just closer to China but have lower costs. The government is looking at ways to make transport costs much more competitive. A timetable will fix responsibility and ensure that trains don’t remain parked at a station for hours to push passenger trains.