RO-RO services complete 20 years

RO-RO services complete 20 years

KRCL’s`RO-RO’ (Roll On Roll Off) service has failed to retain its customer base with every passing year.

The first-ever ‘RO-RO’ (Roll on-Roll off) service in India, launched by Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL), has completed 20 years of service.

However, a sense of triumph on reaching an important milestone is missing in the KRCL camp. “As on date, no programme has been planned to celebrate the 20th year,” KRCL revealed in its information sought under the RTI act by DH. The steady decline in revenue since 2015-16 seemed to have kept the officials pre-occupied with strategies on preventing the further sliding of revenue.

“KRCL came up with the concept of RORO facility, which allows trucks to be loaded onto the railway wagons, customised for the purpose, and unloaded at their respective destinations. RO-RO operates two services presently—between Kolad (Mumbai) and Verna (417 km) in Goa and Kolad-Surathkal (721 km). RO-RO service is also available between Ankola and Surathkal for trucks from the Hubballi region.

KRCL began with one rake and augmented the services with six rakes subsequently. Ro-Ro service from Kolad to Suratkal was launched on June 15, 2004. Information under RTI revealed that as many as 4,50,467 trucks were transported between Kolad and Suratkal. On average, 93 trucks were loaded per day and average 2.1 trips were conducted per day (based on 2018-19 traffic).

KRCL’s RO-RO service which saved fuel (about 10 litres of diesel per km) and decongested roads had seemed as a win-win situation initially for the transporters. Sources said KRCL in its bid to shore up the revenue had begun organising interactions and trade meets with entrepreneurs. KRCL also had submitted proposals to Central and Western Railway divisions on operating Ro-Ro services on a commercial basis.

‘Erratic and expensive’

Entrepreneur Sashidar Shetty says unlike passenger trains, RO-RO service does not have a scheduled time. “The unscheduled timings makes RO-RO a nightmare to entrepreneurs,” informs Shetty who was once at the receiving end of KRCL’s RO-RO service in 2017. An industrialist in Manipal says the charges are also expensive. KRCL collects over Rs 1.20 lakh for a truck weighing over 30 tonnes, he said.Most entrepreneurs have switched over to New Mangalore Port Trust’s feeder vessel service linking Mangaluru and Mumbai. “Feeder service is much cheaper than Ro-Ro service and the consignment is delivered within a week,” Sashidar Shetty informed. The four-lane and good roads also had added to the woes of KRCL, entrepreneurs said.

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