The unique and innovative RO-RO (Roll-on Roll-off) service of Konkan Railway, being run by it on its route, will be completing 15 years of its successful operation on January 26, 2014.
It was on January 26 in 1999 that the service was first started by Konkan Railway on its route on an experimental basis.
During the initial years of the train operations by Konkan Railway on its route, the freight traffic was very meagre. Since freight traffic is considered the bread and butter of railways, Konkan Railway came up with the innovative RO-RO service whereby loaded goods trucks are carried piggy back on railway flat waggons.
This service is unique only to Konkan railway and on completion of 15 years of its commencement, it is now earning the Corporation over Rs50 crore per annum. The popularity of the service can be seen from the fact that over 3.5 lakh goods trucks have been carried by this service so far in 15 years.
The marketing of the innovative service in the initial years was also unique. While print advertisements were given in all language newspapers, posters were pasted at all dhabas on National Highways that are visited by truckers. Pamphlets in local languages - Marathi, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati etc - used to be distributed by Konkan Railway to the truck drivers at dhabas.
Fleet owners were contacted and apprised of the benefits of the service. On the trial day of the service, only 5 truckers came with their loaded trucks to avail the service. But once the service started, within a few months it gained patronage through word of mouth.
The benefits of the service were becoming palpable to those who started availing it.
Over the years, many changes were brought in the service to make it more efficient by introducing shorter route, more rakes, and ensuring punctual running of the rakes. Now, on an average 50 trucks are carried per rake and upto three rakes are loaded per day. RO-RO is an innovative means of establishing a synergistic relationship between the railways and the roadways instead of being competitors.
The service has helped the railways to get back the piecemeal traffic which had got diverted to the road sector. The service benefits the truck owners as well as the railways, while saving precious diesel for the country. It saves wear and tear of tyres, reduces maintenance cost of trucks, enables faster turn-round of trucks, faster delivery of goods, gives higher profits, less pollution, and better road safety.
Also decongests the National Highway and gives a hassle-free ride to the truck drivers. Introduction of RO-RO services has been a win-win situation for railways, road transporters as well as the Nation.
The service, conceptualised by Konkan Railway, is extremely popular with the truckers and the sight of RO-RO train on Konkan Railway route is very common to passengers now.
There are two services of Ro-Ro - one between Kolad (145 km from Mumbai) and Verna (a distance of 417 km), and second between Kolad and Surathkal (a distance of 721 km).
Delivery is within 12 hrs for Kolad-Verna, within 22 hrs for Kolad-Surathkal, which by road would take atleast about 24 hrs and 40 hrs respectively.
The RO-RO service is eco-friendly and cheaper than the road transport.