Kisan Rail trains have ferried around 27,000 tonnes of produce so far, and half of the trips made so far were by trains running between Devlali in Maharashtra and Danapur in Bihar.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the 100th Kisan Rail train on Monday, which is also plying between Devlali and Danapur — a popular offering which has now been extended to run between Sangola to Muzaffarpur and has carried over 15,450 tonnes of produce.
The Kisan Rail train carries vegetables such as cauliflower, capsicum, cabbage, drumsticks, chillies, onion, etc, as well as fruits like grapes, oranges, pomegranate, banana, custard apple. The loading and unloading of perishable commodities will be permitted at all en route stoppages and no minimum or maximum size of consignment. The government has extended a subsidy of 50 per cent on transportation of fruits and vegetables.
The multi-commodity train service has been popular as it also carries relatively small quantities of produce brought in by small, individual farmers. For example, there have been consignments as small as 30 kg of pomegranate from Nashik to Muzaffarpur, for which Railways charged Rs 124, or of a few dozen eggs sent from Manmad to Khandwa, for which Railways charged a freight of Rs 34.
So far, the Kisan Rail has run regularly on 10 routes. One route — between Yeshvantpur and Delhi — exhausted its seasonal demand a while ago.
Officials said that the idea is to assess local demand in a manner that a regular, weekly or biweekly train can be institutionalised without the transporter suffering any financial losses. So far, it has been a money spinner — each parcel van can carry around 23 tonnes and a Kisan Rail train of 10-15 parcel vans makes it financially comfortable for Railways.
“Ideally, when we get around 300-350 tonnes to carry over a certain distance, we don’t suffer any loss. Officials are constantly speaking to local farmers and cooperative societies to assess this kind of demand — for example seasonal produce of oranges from Nagpur to be carried to Delhi and suchlike,” said a senior government official.