IN A historic development, the Rajkot division of Western Railway (WR) flagged off its first goods train carrying 3,882 tonne of industrial salt in bulk form from Wavaniya station near Maliya in Morbi district on Friday.
The loading of industrial salt in bulk form started early Friday morning. Later, the train departed from Vavaniya for Renukut station in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. An official release from the Rajkot division of WR said that a total of 3,882 tonne of industrial salt was loaded in 58 open wagons. The train will transport the salt to Renukut, 1,588 kilometre away.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal termed the rake carrying bulk industrial salt the beginning of a new traffic stream. “Another feather in the cap of Railways as it starts loading Industrial Salt in Wavaniya, Gujarat. This new traffic stream will pave the way for convenient, swift and and cost-effective transportation of varied freight!” Goyal tweeted.
Officers of Rajkot division said this was the first train carrying industrial salt in bulk in the history of the division. “This is a major policy change.
So far, we used to transport industrial salt but only in packed form but after forming our Business Development Unit (BDU), we held a meeting with our freight customers on June 4. Allowing loading of industrial salt in bulk was one of the suggestions. The suggestion was approved by the Railway Board and the first rake carrying industrial salt in bulk departed from Wavaniya, today,” Parmeshwar Funkwal, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Rajkot, told The Indian Express.
After the meeting with the freight customers, the WR sent a proposal to the Railway Board to reclassify industrial salt as an item falling under category 110-A of goods instead of its previous classification of an item falling in category 120. “This reclassification has two advantages for customers. Firstly, it allows them to load salt in bulk and therefore, saves their loading cost. Secondly, due to lower classification, the freight rate also goes down by around 20 per cent,” Funkwal said.
The release quoted Abhinav Jeph, senior divisional commercial manager (DCM), stated that loading of industrial salt in Rajkot division resumed after a long period. There was little loading of this commodity due to the Covid-19 induced nation-wide lockdown which had begun in the last week of March, disrupting industrial activities and supply chains. He said that so far, the Railways used to load industrial salt only after it was packed in bags. This used to increase packaging and loading cost as loading would have to be done manually.
After the lockdown, every division of WR has formed a BDU with an aim to attract new traffic and to streamline existing traffic streams. “We are in constant consultation with salt producers, tile manufacturers of Morbi as well as APMCs (Agricultural Produce Market Committees) in an attempt to attract to the Railways the goods that are otherwise transported by road,” Funkwal said.
The release said that the salt was loaded by Jaydeep Chem Food Private Limited for delivery to Grasim Industries Limited. The maiden rake will earn the Rajkot division Rs 60.27 lakh freight revenue. The bulk industrial salt loading was allowed on the condition that the inner side of the open wagon will be covered with tarpaulin sheets first, so that salt does not come in contact with the steel wagon and does not lead to corrosion.
Besides Wavaniya, Rajkot division loads salt from nearby Lavanpur as well as edible salt from Mithapur in Devbhoomi Dwarka district.