On Thursday afternoon, the first Parcel Cargo Express train (PCET) to Kalyan, Maharashtra was flagged off from the Guwahati railway station. The goods train will run twice a month, and is being celebrated as a “leap forward” in connecting the Northeast to western of India — specifically Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and even Bengaluru. “The Northeast is rich but there are several transportation bottlenecks — therefore local produce does not end up finding a market outside the region,” says Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer, Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR).
The train will take produce such as pineapples, ginger, betel nut, turmeric, tea as well as cane and wax to Maharashtra, providing a much-needed boost to the agricultural community and the nascent agro/petro-based industries of Northeast. On the other hand, it will also meet the demands of the seven sister states by bringing in supplies of medicines, Army CSD consignments, raw materials for Continuous Process Plants (CPP) and infra-structure inputs.
“PCET is a time tabled train with definite departure and arrival dates like Express trains. So unlike other goods trains which tend to get delayed due to precedence given to passenger traffic, the PCET is accorded high operational priority,” says Sharma.
The train comes at a very crucial time as Assam gears up for its monsoon. “During the monsoons, which last for about six months, roads become prone to landslides hampering traffic flow,” says Sharma. The PCET will be a viable alternative for goods transportations especially during these months. A single PCET can reportedly carry a consignment equivalent to that of 52 trucks.