September 5, 2021 12:43:29 am
Heeding the requests from textile trading bodies, the Western Railway has started operating special trains to transport textile goods to other parts of the country from Surat.
On September 1, Western Railway divisional railway manager (DRM) GVL Sathyakumar flagged off the train to Kolkata from Chalthan Railway station in Surat, in the presence of members of the Federation of Surat Textile traders Association (FOSTTA) and Surat Textile Goods Transport Association (STGTA). A train with 25 wagons loaded with 202 tonnes of textile goods reached Shalimar station in Kolkata the next day.
On Saturday, Union Minister of State for Railways and Textiles Darshana Jardosh flagged off a special train from Udhna to Danapur in Patna, Bihar, carrying 136 tonnes of fabrics. According to railway sources, the train generated a revenue of Rs. 5.86 lakh.
In a meeting with the DRM recently, representatives of FOSTTA and STGTA said they were transporting goods through road and it was expensive, time-consuming and fraught with risk.
Sathyakumar assured them to work out on trains with a single destination (railway station) where the goods are to be transported in quantity.
“The special trains will be allotted on demand… it is a good business opportunity for the Western Railway from Surat textile industry,” said an official of Western Railway.
FOSTTA secretary Champalal Bothra said, “The textile traders were told to inform us about their need to send their goods to Kolkata at Shalimar Railway station and we got a good response. We also took details of the parcels booking from the transport association and jointly worked out on it to fill 25 bogies.”
He further added, “After the first goods train service was a success, we booked another train from Surat (Chalthan) to Danapur near Patna and Ram Dayalu Nagar near Muzaffarpur in Bihar on Saturday. Another train from Surat to Shalimar has been booked on Sunday. We have requested the Railway authorities to reduce the number of bogies. We have also demanded from DRM Sathyakumar that the trains should halt at different stations on the route. We will request railway authorities for trains to other destinations as well depending on the response.”
Welcoming the movie, textile trader and member of FOSTTA, Jay Lal, said, “We sent our parcels to Kolkata and it reached safely. Due to the rise in petrol and diesel prices, transportation by road has become dearer. It takes more time also as the transporter collects fabrics parcels from traders godown and keeps them in his godown, waiting for the truck to get fully loaded. Our parcels remain in these godown and the journey is also delayed due to traffic problems and other issues on road. The safety of goods is also a major concern, especially during monsoon season and there is also a fear of theft.”
Saying more such trains would benefit the traders, Lal added, “It takes three days for our goods to reach Kolkata by road from Surat. By train, it reaches in 24 hours.”
President of Surat Merchantile Association, Narendra Saboo, said, “We don’t get uniform demand from different states for our goods. The demand is more during festivals and marriage seasons. At present, there is high demand from West Bengal, with Durga puja round the corner. The festive demand that begins around August 15 will last for two months. During these months, Surat textile traders make a business of around Rs 500 crore, while during other months, the business is between Rs 100 crore to Rs 150 crore from West Bengal.”
Adding that there is demand for goods from Bihar due to marriage season, he said, “During marriage season, the monthly sale of textiles from Surat to Bihar is estimated to be of Rs 1,000 crore, while during the rest of the months it is around Rs 500 crore. We are also hoping that trains operate to other destinations as well so that traders need not depend only on the road transport.”
Saying that transporting goods through special trains has not affected their business, STGTA president Yuvraj Deshle said, “We take handling charges and transportation charges from traders. We have our transporter in the other destinations to ferry goods sent from Surat. To transport goods from Surat to Kolkata, we charge Rs 10 per kilogram. In goods train, the traders have to pay Rs 5 per kilogram and Rs 2 for handling (loading and unloading and pick up and drop) charges.”
An official from Surat railway station said on condition of anonymity, “We assure the safety of goods as the bogies are locked once it is fully loaded. Around 125 parcels of textile fabric get loaded in a single bogie. At present, we are providing such services on demand and once it becomes a regular practice, we may increase the frequency by adding trains to other destinations of the country as well.”
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