Considering the pandemic COVID-19, Indian Railways has announced slew of incentives to the freight customers. These incentives are expected to boost the economy by aiding the country’s export. These incentives will make customers register their demands for goods electronically instead of going to goods shed physically, thus making it more convenient, speedier, and transparent process.
1. Non-levy of Demurrage, Wharfage and other ancillary charges:
Demurrage, Wharfage, Stacking, Stabling Charges are levied after the expiry of prescribed free time. To facilitate freight customers and to provide logistics support for the movement of essential goods in view of COVID pandemic, Demurrage, Wharfage, Stacking, Stabling charges will not arise in case of goods/parcel traffic. Similarly, Detention Charge and Ground Usage Charge will not arise for container traffic. These guidelines are applicable from 22.03.2020 to 03.05.2020.However, if undue delays in loading/unloading are noticed and in the interest to continue efficient transportation of essentials, and to make the goods rake available for next loading, competent railway authority may review and withdraw these benefits on case to case basis with adequate prior notice. In such cases, the free time will be extended to twice the prescribed limits under extent policies, beyond which charges will be levied at normal rates.
2. Extension of Electronic registration of demand (e-RD) and Electronic Transmission of Railway Receipt (eT-RR) facility in case of Freight Forwarders, Iron & Steel, Iron Ore and Salt traffic:
Electronic registration of demand (e-RD) provides the facility to customers to register their demands for goods electronically instead of having to visit the goods sheds physically. It is speedier and transparent.
Electronic Transmission of Railway Receipt (eT-RR) is a step-above paperless transaction system where Railway receipt is also generated and transmitted electronically to the customer through FOIS, and even delivery of goods is given through e-surrender of eT-RR. This eliminates the need for a customer to travel to goods shed for demand registration, receiving RR/invoice and for taking delivery of goods.
3. Relaxations in Freight transportation:
Indian Railways has many schemes for customers who want to book less than standard length rakes, rakes originating at two points, rakes with two destinations etc. These are offered with certain conditions like distance restrictions etc due to operational optimisation. Following relaxations have been made due to COVID:-
a. The distance restriction for mini rake was 600 km, which was increased to 1000 kms for Intra zonal traffic. Now the same has been permitted uo to 1500 km for both interzonal and intra zonal traffic.
b. Similarly, there is a distance restriction for rakes originating at two points that two loading points should not be apart by more than 200 km in lean season and 400 km in the busy season. This is to ensure the optimal utilization of rakes. The distance restriction has now been relaxed to allow loading points to be apart upto 500 km, regardless of the season.
c. Further, there are a prescribed number of wagons to be loaded for availing train load benefit. If lesser than this number of wagons are booked than wagon-load rates apply, which are a bit higher.
Relaxation in this has been granted to BCNHL wagons, which are a type of covered wagons primarily used for bagged consignments, like foodgrains, agricultural produce like onions etc. The minimum number of wagons to be loaded for availing train load benefit in these has been reduced from 57 to 42 wagons now, with a view to supporting the loading of essential food items.
All these relaxations in para 3 are valid till 30.09.2020.