Tamil Nadu

Farmers, traders can use parcel trains to transport produce during lockdown, say railway officials

Parcel trains are being operated between important stations during the lockdown

Parcel trains are being operated between important stations during the lockdown   | Photo Credit: G. KARTHIKEYAN

Southern Railway has launched a helpline to enable customers from Tamil Nadu and Kerala to make enquiries for possible transportation of essential commodities

Traders and farmers can make use of time-tabled express parcel trains run between Chennai Egmore and Nagercoil to transport their perishable and other essential commodities to get better prices for their produce during the lockdown period. Southern Railway has been operating daily parcel trains since April 13.

“This is being run for carrying essential commodities to different places and making them available in all parts of the state without any shortage,” a railway official said.

The services have been extended up to May 3 as the curfew period was extended.

“As of now, the parcel train is run with one high-capacity parcel van (VPH) and a second class luggage-cum-guard van,” said an official.

The railway has been booking boxes of medicines, medical equipment, face masks, gloves, floor cleaner and sanitisers too.

Though the railway is operating this facility only as a service without any profit motive, the official said that people were not making full use of the service.

“Media reports say that farmers in different parts of the State were not able to even harvest their produce due to lack of demand. In some places, they were dumping their produce on the road as traders are willing to pay only rock bottom prices,” another railway official said. He pointed out that a particular agricultural produce that does not have a demand in the local market could have high demand in other parts of the State. And hence, they can send their produce to such places and get remunerative prices for their goods.

Farmers or traders can make use of the parcel train services to send their produce to major cities.

“Parcels in small quantities or as low as 200 kg or 300 kg are also accepted for the parcel express trains,” the official said.

However, the only limitation is that the produce could be taken to only those towns/cities that is served through the parcel trains.

“If the traders or farmers are able to bring bulk quantity – up to 23 tonnes – one full high-capacity parcel van and book them on a particular day, the goods could sent to any destination in any of the States,” he added. The particular parcel vans could be taken to destinations as close as Kerala or as far as Nagpur, Delhi, Howrah or Mumbai through link goods train.

The State Governments could also establish contacts with other States and find their demand for perishable and non-perishable goods that are available in abundance in Tamil Nadu.

Helpline for railway parcel service

Meanwhile, Southern Railways has launched a new helpline –Swift and efficient transport of utilities, SETU (SR) -- to ease the supply chain backlog during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The helpline will enable customers from Tamil Nadu and Kerala to make enquiries for possible transportation of essential commodities and any other industrial items such as personal protection equipment, masks, medicines and other critical items.

People can call the SETU helpline on 90253-42449.

The requests collected through helpline number will be forwarded to the division concerned of Southern Railway. The divisions will in-turn check the feasibility of transporting the requested goods and commodities and will inform the helpline at the earliest.

“If the transportation is feasible, the helpline team will facilitate the customers in the process. If it is not feasible, the same will be communicated to the customers,” the statement said.

Calling this helpline and giving the requirements of tonnage to be moved will be subject to the feasibility of movement by rail from the nearest railhead.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:18:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/farmers-traders-can-use-parcel-trains-to-transport-produce-during-lockdown-say-railway-officials/article31367032.ece

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