Thursday, March 02, 2006

Road Transportation

Efficient road construction & transportation system is a pre requisite for the development of every aspect of society, be it education, health or economic development. Road transportation caters to the need of medium and short distance movements and is one of the important elements for national development. The road transport sector plays a major role in the economic development of the country. The profitability of transport operations depends to a large extent on fuel efficiency of the vehicles.

Indian Scenario

India is one of the countries of the world having the largest road network. We have an extensive road network that links the different parts of the country. The influence of topography in road construction is noticeable. The regions with the largest road network include:

• The Gangetic plains
• The Damodar valley
• The Punjab-Haryana plains
• The south Indian states such as Tamil
• Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala

Today the Indian customer's standard and the level of expectation have gone up dramatically. They have become world-class customers and thus expect world-class services. Hence it is customer service, which is going to give the competitive edge to any industry in the future.

The domestic express cargo industry is meeting the customer satisfaction needs by providing speedy and safe delivery of cargo like documents, packages, samples, exhibition material etc. Domestic market for door-to-door express cargo market is more than Rs.400 crore and the current rate of growth is in a region of a healthy 35% per annum. The industry has been making an increasingly important contribution to the economic growth of the country by providing logistics to the cargo movement.

The road transport industry consists of three defined sectors:
• Manufacturers, suppliers and repairers of commercial vehicles including coaches and buses, and their components
• Transport operators engaged in the movement of freight
• Public and private operators involved in the movement of passengers.

The road transport industry also supports the freight logistics task and has sophisticated freight management systems that provide the logistics and materials handling solutions from production line to consumer. Organisations which need road freight transport services may use either in-house or outsourced road freight services with the outsourced freight services (freight forwarders or freight operators) showing an increase in use. Outsourced freight forwarders may either provide a transport service nationally or concentrate on moving goods on specific routes. Freight forwarders may operate their own truck fleet and employ their own drivers, but more commonly they engage independent sub-contractors to provide haulage services. However, there has been a recent trend for freight forwarders to increase the sizes of their own fleets.

Freight operators may be either fleet or independent operators. They secure consignments on a contractual basis, either directly from consigners or from freight forwarders. Depending on contractual arrangements, these independent operators may be:

In order to identify inefficiencies that could reduce the benefits to be derived from the large investments now being made by the Government in the nation’s highway infrastructure, various studies have been considered to improve the functioning of road transport, in particular long-distance road transport, and, enhance its already enormous contribution (3.9 percent of GDP) to the workings of the Indian economy. While the road transport sector encompasses a wide variety of activities, this study has focused on three aspects which were considered the most relevant to the investments in highway infrastructure - the trucking industry, inter-city buses, and in view of its very important, but largely unfulfilled role in enhancing road safety, the motor insurance industry.

The key findings and recommendations of the study are summarized below. India has achieved a highly competitive, low-cost road freight transport industry for basic services, with highway freight rates among the lowest in the world. In fact, trucking freight rates are so low that the industry is suffering an intense period of low profits, or rather, even losses. In this context, actions by the Government that increase costs, or reduce the efficiency of operators, will soon find their way into higher freight rates. Introduction of tractor-trailer, multi-axle vehicles would reduce not only transport costs, but also road damage caused by the higher axle-loadings of 2- and 3-axle rigid trucks, and, incentives proposed for introduction of multi-axle trucks include reduced tax and highway toll rates. Regarding inter-city bus services, the private sector has won back a rapidly increasing share of the inter-city road passenger market, and now about 80 percent of the bus fleet is privately operated. The report stipulates the appropriate focus of regulatory policy, in the case of road passenger transport, should be qualitative standards related to the safety of services, and the minimization of negative environmental impacts. As per the motor insurance industry, removing tariff controls and allowing a free market to develop will enable the industry to turn into a viable business, to invest in the kinds of enhancements needed, e.g., a system to maintain, and access driver records in order to properly assess risk, and charge premiums that reflect the risk profile of individual drivers.

Private Sector Participation
• With a view to attract private investment in road development, maintenance and operation, National Highways Act (NH Act) 1956 was amended in June 1995.

• In terms of these amendments, the private persons can invest in the NH projects, levy, collect and retain fee from users and is empowered to regulate traffic on such highways in terms of provisions of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988
The Trucking Industry

India has achieved a highly competitive. low-cost road freight transport industry for basic services, with highway freight rates among the lowest in the world. The industry is deregulated and, as in many countries, highly fragmented with many small operators. The industry’s structure, comprising transporters, broker agents and small operators, i s market driven and appears to be serving the market reasonably well. Given the very low freight rates, one has to conclude it is an effective industry structure.

Despite many remaining impediments, mainly concerning the existing infrastructure, it is the constant pressure of a highly competitive market that delivers to India’s shippers some of the world’s lowest freight rates. In such a competitive market, one would expect freight rates to vary little from costs, in fact, trucking freight - rates are so low that the industry is suffering an intense period of low profits or even losses.

In this context, actions by government that increase costs or reduce the efficiency of operators, will soon find their way into higher freight rates.

Reliability and transit times nearly double that of developed countries. This low quality o f service, may be adequate for much o f the present traffic comprising low-value bulk products - much of which would normally be served more economically by railway or coastal shipping. However, it is not adequate for higher-value manufactures or the time-sensitive export trade which comprise a growing share of the Indian economy.

While the industry delivers very low freight rates, service quality is poor, with low utilization rates that are caused by long delays at checkpoints enroute, excess trucking capacity which results in idle trucks, slow speeds on most roads, especially in congested areas, and lack of tractor trailer units that enable the tractor to keep operating while loading and unloading are carried out on the trailers.

Road Safety is a major concern for India; with fatality rates about ten times those in the developed economies, and trucks are responsible for a disproportionate share of these accidents. The annual economic loss from road accidents has been estimated to exceed Rs.550 billion, with a majority attributable to the truck fleet. To improve the safety record, driver training, licensing, the working conditions of drivers, and enforcement o f safety regulations must become a priority for the Government.

To encourage use of multi-axle vehicles and tractor-trailer combinations, To reduce delays at border crossings, particularly for high value or time-sensitive goods, thereby reducing transport costs and road pavement damage, it is recommended that incentives be put in place such as tax rates favoring such vehicles and reduced tolls on highways to reward their reduced impact on pavements.

Since a significant portion of the driver population is illiterate, it is recommended that audio-visual driver training materials should be developed.

Truck Delays

The greatest uncertainty in estimating the economic impact of truck delays is due to the lack of information about the incidence, length and nature of the delays. Only one formal survey has been carried out in recent years, and it is clear that the occurrence of delay varies considerably between one state to another because the sales tax controls at inter-state borders differ in accordance with the prevailing sales tax rates in adjoining states. Furthermore although no such difficulties were observed on the four trips described above it is clear that some long delays do occur from time to time and this would add significantly to the overall average. For example it was observed during the survey that the particular drivers being observed knew the likely locations of mobile enforcement officers and had already established close relations with the officials on their routes. It has been observed that the range of delay time experienced at check points on the main highways is usually between 0.0015 and 0.0040 h o u r s /km. .The associated delay with getting the paperwork sorted out is similarly estimated to be between 1.6 and 3.0 hours per trip (equivalent to between 0.0010 and 0.0020 per km for typical long distance trips).

User Costs

Two types of user costs are affected by truck delays:

• Vehicle operating costs that are fixed rather than vary with distance
• Cargo time-related costs, which are mainly cargo holding time costs caused
by increased inventories.

There are two main issues in estimating these user costs: fixed v/s variable costs and the extent to which time savings can be used in practice.

Elements of transportation: - The very first basic element of any transportation system is the way. Way means a track or path along or over which passes, progresses or travels. The ways include a path, route, road or passage of any kind. The way on the ground surface of earth is commonly known as road. Longer cross-country roads are however known as ways. Narrower and shorter roads in the urban areas are however termed as streets and lanes.

Types of roads: Depending upon usability the roads can be classified into two categories: -

1) All weather roads
2) Fair weather roads

The all weather roads are those, which can be, used all through the year under all weather conditions, rain and sun, summer and winter.

Fair weather roads are those which are interrupted during the monsoon season or gets submerged under water where streams and rivers overflows. Further, based on the carriageway or pavement, the roads are classified as: -

a) Paved roads and unpaved roads: The paved roads are provided with a hard pavement course, which should be atleast water bound layer. These roads are also known as surface roads. The surface is provided with bitumen, which is otherwise known as black top, or with cement concrete. The unpaved or unsurfaced roads are those not having any hard top made of betumin and cement. They are simply earth and gravel roads.
However the common and accepted classification of roads are made on the basis of their location and function. In terms of Nagpur plan the Indian roads have been classified into the following five categories:-

1) Nationals Highways (N.H)
2) State highways (S.H)
3) Major District Roads (MDR)
4) Other District Roads (ODR)
5) Village Roads (VR)

The National Highways are the roads running through the length and breadth of the country, connecting the state capitals, major ports, large industrial and tourist centers. This includes the roads used for strategic movements for defense purposes. They provide the basic framework for the entire road network of the country. All the national highways are assigned the respective numbers e.g the highway connecting Delhi-Ambala-Amitsar is denoted as NH-1, and connecting Bombay and Agra is numbered as NH-3 and so on.

The State Highways are the arterial roads of a state connecting the National Highways running through the vicinity, the district head quarters and important cities and towns of the concerned state. They are considered as the main commercial arteries of the state.

The Major District Roads (MDR) are the important roads generated within the district serving the areas of production and market connecting each other as well as the District Highways. They are normally low speed roads.

The Other District Roads which mainly serve the market centers as well as connection to other main roads.

The Village Roads connect the villages or group of villages with each other and with the nearest road of higher category.


Set up in 1989, it started functioning only in February 1995. It is an autonomous body entrusted with the responsibility of development, maintenance and operation of the National Highways and other associated facilities vested in the Government of India.


The maintenance and improvement of roads, though an ongoing programme, has not produced the desired results due to meager allocations. The country’s road network generates large revenues. But the country spends merely 35-40 per cent of this revenue on the improvement and maintenance of roads whereas Japan spends 128 per cent, USA 97 per cent and Germany 82 per cent annually. The National Highways too are facing a similar situation.

The allocations in respect of highways have declined from. 1.5 per cent in the First Plan to 0.57 in the Eighth Plan. External aided projects for improvement of highways started in 1985 with the World Bank assistance and later on with assistance from the Asian Development Bank and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund.

The increasing road traffic, as the expected freight movement of 28 lakh TEUs on the roads annually during the Eighth Plan period would suggest, and the heavy backlog of maintenance and improvement, have brought the road network to a breaking point. An investment of Rs 52,200 crore is needed to restore the National Highway network alone.

A study in 1994 estimated the annual vehicle operating cost on Indian roads as Rs 100,000 crore (Rs 40,000 crore for National Highways and Rs 60,000 crore for State Roads). The study further revealed that a good road network can reduce this cost by Rs 15,000 crore (National Highways - Rs 6,000 crore and State Roads Rs 9,000 crore). Since the fuel component comprises nearly 15 per cent of this cost, the resultant saving in fuel consumption would be about Rs 2,250 crore per annum (Rs 900 crore on the National Highways and Rs 1,350 crore on State Roads).

Growth Trends

Growth of Road Freight Industry

During the period 1951 to 1994, the average yearly growth of traffic has been of the order of 8 to 10%. (Source: Transport India 2000 Conference Paper)
The freight traffic has increased from 6 billion tones kilometers (BTK) in 1951 to 800 BTK in 1999. Such a rapid growth has occurred mainly owing to the flexibility and accessibility offered by road transportation.

Growth of Vehicular Traffic

Since Independence, the number of motor vehicles in the country has been increasing rapidly. The number of goods vehicles increased from 82,000 in 1950-51 to 17.96 lakh in 1994-95. During the same period, the number of buses increased from 34,000 to 4.25 lakh. The total vehicle population swelled from 3.06 lakh in 1950-51 to nearly 302.87 lakh in 1994-95.

The private sector, mostly unorganized and comprising individual operators, has had a dominant presence in the field of road transportation. It runs almost the entire goods-carrier industry and also owns nearly 73.75 per cent of the buses at present. After the Road Transport Corporation Act 1950 became operational, almost all states and union territories have nationalized passenger transport in varying degrees by setting up corporations. In other cases, these services are operated by municipal corporations or registered companies. At present, the number of such bodies stands at 69 with a fleet strength- of 1,11,538 buses carrying 6.88 crore passengers every day. The Motor Vehicles Act 1988 replaced the Motor Vehicles Act 1939 and introduced far-reaching changes in the road transport sector.

The rapid growth in the number of goods vehicles is indicative of the increased volume of freight handled by road.

The no. of goods vehicles has been steadily increasing; however it is still not sufficient to meet the high demand.
Indian Road Freight Industry (Organized Vs. Unorganized Sector)
Organized - 14%
Unorganized - 86%
The road freight industry stands out unique with the majority of the market share held by the unorganized sector. Out of the entire market size of approximately Rs. 38,000 crores, Rs 6000 crores is with the organized sector and the remaining with the unorganized sector indicating that organized sector has only a miniscule 14%share of the total road freight transportation industry.

Indian Road Network
Length(In Km)

National Highways = 65,569*
State Highways = 1,31,899
Major District Roads = 4,67,763
Village and Other Roads = 26,50,000
Total Length 33 Lakhs Kms (Approx)
*National Highways are less than 2 % of network but carry 40% of total traffic

Modal Shift
There has been a major shift in transportation mode from Railways towards the Road sector.
• Primary Network - Only 2 to 3 % 4 - Laned,15% single laned
• Primary/Secondary Network - Severe capacity constraint and lack of mobility
• Tertiary Network
- Connectivity an issue
-40 % habitations not connected by all weather roads
Current Status:
Passenger 85%, Freight 70%

Passenger 15%, Freight30%
Golden Quadrilateral Project...
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have awarded/proposed to award contracts for private investment in the development of Golden Quadrilateral of National Highways Development Project on Build Operate and Transfer (BOT)/Annuity basis.

The specifications for quality are prescribed in the contract itself. For ensuring quality control, the entrepreneur is required to appoint qualified personnel as Supervision Consultants. The NHAI and the concessionaire for BOT Project also to appoint Independent Consultants to oversee the quality control measures and maintain the requisite standards.

The estimated cost of Rs250.55bn (at 2000 prices) has been approved for the implementation of Golden Quadrilateral of National Highways Development Project. The allocations are not made state-wise.
What are the long-term benefits of such a project?
Once completed, the GQ project would cut down travel time by 20-25 per cent. The likely financial benefits to the economy, as per the World Bank estimate, mainly on account of lower fuel costs, is said to be around Rs 8,000 crore per annum.

The roads programme in India has been given a new thrust; the airports and airlines are humming with fresh activity; the railways are working on their version of the Golden Quadrilateral to enhance their freight carrying capabilities; In every area of infrastructure development we require public-private partnerships as the public sector alone cannot deliver all that is required.

NHDP is a project that envisages that the 4-6 lane wide roads will provide fast access between one city to another. Presently in our country, trucks travel between 200-250 kms in a day in an 8-hour operation, traveling at maybe 30-40 km/hr.

Under the 'golden quadrilateral' project, 5,952 kms of new roads will be built to link national highways and connect the four metros of Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai under the Rs.54,000-crore national highways development project (NHDP). The existing national highways will be upgraded from double-lane to four-lane highways and, on certain routes, depending on the density of the traffic, they will be upgraded to six-lanes.

The golden quadrilateral will connect Delhi from the north to Kolkata in the east along 1,469 kms of national highway 2. Kolkata to Chennai, in the south, will be linked along national highways 5,6 and 60, traversing a distance of 1,745 kms.
From Chennai upto Mumbai, national highways 4,7 and 46 will form the next part of the grid, traversing a distance of 1,302 kms. From Mumbai, the quadrilateral will link Delhi through national highway 8. Andhra Pradesh with 1,014 kms will have the longest stretch of the quadrilateral, while Delhi with just 25 kms will have the shortest stretch.

The overall supervision and execution of the project rests with the nodal authority, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which has the mandate to implement the NHDP.

The NHDP is a major initiative to enhance the traffic capacity of the country's highways, which constitute less than two per cent of India's road network but carry 40 per cent of the traffic.

Transport patterns, according to NHAI, have shifted from the rail network to the roads as almost 85 per cent of the passenger traffic and 70 per cent of the freight now moves by road.

As of 30 June 2003, Projects Today had 1359 projects worth Rs.122,731 crore in Road sector with a total share of 6.5 per cent in terms of overall investment being done in India. Major investment is being done in the development of road infrastructure in the different states, this includes the ambitious Prime Minister’s dream project of developing roads in India i.e., NHDP and PMGSY.

The Ministry of State for Road Transport & Highways has undertaken the task of developing National Highways in India and has entrusted National Highways Authority of India the task of implementing the most ambitious National Highways Development Project (NHDP) – comprising of the Golden Quadrilateral and North-South & East-West Corridors, NHAI is also responsible for development of highways connecting major ports.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) the Union government intends to develop rural roads in all the districts of the states. Similarly efforts are also done at state level by different agencies like MSRDC .

Road projects are implemented through private participation on BOT, Annuity or on Turnkey basis.

Resources Generation

For giving a boost to the economy, the govt started massive road construction programme from the ninth plan period. This has generated two-digit growth rate in automobile manufacturing sector. The govt revenue is generated from such activities comprising of excise duty on finished automobile, excise duty from automobile component manufacturers, excise duty from manufacturers of alloy steels, sales tax or value added tax from such commercial activities, income tax from individual and companies engaged in production, sales and purchase of automobiles, automobile components besides annual road tax and insurance.

Future construction and maintenance of roads could be easily financed from the fund being generated from automobile industries as above. Again such road projects would generate large indirect employment in other sector of economy like tourism. It has multiplier effect on economy and it’s a foreign exchange earner. The main input to tourism is a systematic transport sector and good quality network.

Traffic pattern on Indian Roads is highly heterogeneous in nature. There are around 30 million vehicles in India, which are growing at the rate of 15-17%. Therefore the transport demand is set to grow by 1.5 times in the next ten years. Delays, safety, parking and environmental problem are the main issues of traffic management. Average number of road accidents per thousand of vehicles is around 23, which is one of the highest in the world. Buses and trucks are responsible for 43% of the accidents.

The 23 metros contribute towards 35% of the total motor vehicles in the country. In terms of numbers on road two-wheelers dominate the scene with about 65% of share in total number of vehicles whereas in terms of percent share of trips, buses cover the maximum passenger kms of about 36% of total. Vehicular ownership is very low in our country with only 26 vehicles per thousand of population as against 533, 546, 623, 315 and 197 motor vehicles per 1000 of population in France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore respectively. In India work trips are the most important component of the traffic demand during peak hours of the day. Transport demand is likely to increase by about 2.5 times from 1991 to 2010 in large metros and other medium sized cities by about 3-3.5 times. Indian traffic and transport system has a number of drawbacks which causes problems of delays, unsafety, pollution and inadequate parking. Average number of Road accidents per thousand of vehicles is around 23, which is one of the highest in the world. NMT (Non Motorised Transport) are involved in about 60-65 % of the road accidents and share of pedestrians is also very high standing at about 40%.

Road infrastructure in India is highly inadequate both in quantum and quality. The main drawback on the road system is heavy encroachments on major roads, poor surface condition and inadequate surface drainage.

There are not many training institutes in the country. SPA, IIT etc. provide courses in traffic engineering and transport planning but there is a lack of driver's / traffic police/ road user training institutes.

There are institutes like CRRI, VRDE etc. in India involved in the research work in the field of roads and automobile engineering however, there is not much research activity going on for technology development in the sector of traffic management. Although there are quite some traffic equipment manufacturers in India, they lack technical know how for manufacturing more sophisticated and effective equipments.

There are many studies done by the organisations like CRRI, CIRT, RITES etc. on various aspects of Traffic and Transportation Planning in India which include Policies, planning, forecasting, public mass transport, personalised transport, Intermediate public transport and general studies. Even TRRL has also done some studies for Indian Cities. Apart from these, there are many traffic and transport related websites which are a very good source of latest information on technologies and techniques. Also there are many International and National Journals on traffic and transportation management.

The total investment expected towards implementing technologies of various groups by the year 2004 will be Rs 115 crores and by the year 2009 will be Rs 260 crores. As can be seen the maximum emphasis in the next decade will be on improving passive traffic systems (like traffic lights, passenger information systems) and infrastructure like roads, subways, grade separators, bypasses. Meanwhile investments will be made to test a few active traffic management systems
Logistics Management:-

In Indian economy, the logistics spend is a significant percentage of the GDP. The logistics spend in India is estimated at 14%-15% which is much higher than the global standandards. It is therefore critical to reduce logistics costs to remain competitive in the market. The components for reducing the logistics spend are reduction in average supply chain cycle time, reduction in inventory.

Logistics management constitutes an integral part of Transport management. Commercial viability and profitability of a transport system in a competitive market largely depends on infrastructure facilities available with the transporter in order to provide services to its customer with reliability.

Let us consider a situation where a manufacturer at Kolkata is executing an order for a delivery of finished goods at Cochin. The manufacturer has to pack the finished goods and handover the same to the transporter for destination Cochin against the dispatch documents i.e railway receipt, consignment note, bill of lading issued by the concerned transporter. The seller will inform the purchaser at Cochin the dispatch details for necessary actions by the purchaser. The seller will endorse the original dispatch document in favour of the purchaser and negotiate the same along with invoice for the supply through his banker to the purchaser via purchaser’s nominated banker. Seller’s banker will deliver the dispatch document in original to the purchaser’s banker on collection payment as per agreed contract. The purchaser will collect the original dispatch document from his banker and produce the same to the transporter at Cochin for collection of goods.

This implies that the transporters are required to have sufficient warehousing facility in all destinations. The finished goods before dispatch are required to be packed. The packing is required to be Rail worthy/Road Transport worthy/Sea worthy. This involves additional cost and time. Again the packed finished goods are required to reach Rail Head/ Sea port/Transporter godown for onward loading to the Rail/Ship/Truck. This requires unloading and loading functions at transporters' dispatching station warehouse. Similar functions would be necessary at Transporters' destination station warehouse. All these operations add to costs and time. The aggregate of such costs and time works out substantially which reduces speed of operation and profitability in transportation. Productivity, efficiency and profitability in transport operation could be increased with increase in capacity utilization of the vehicle.

Asset turnover ratio of a transport organization depends upon the following factors:-
• Speed of operation
• Minimum downtime
• Minimum detention time arising out of loading and unloading operation.

Speed of operation depends upon route length, condition of roads and bridges and type of transport used. Implementing appropriate maintenance management could minimize the down time and minimum detention time calls for installation of appropriate logistics management. Thus logistic support and its management form an important element of transport management.

Logistics Support for general cargo.

The general cargos constitutes household materials to industrial cargo, which are not very large in weight and this type of cargo is generally found for inland transportation either by railways or by road transport or by both. With the introduction of container as cargo carrier, the costly packing has been dispensed with. If the cargo from a client constitute full container load, then the container is placed at the premises of the customer who loads all his materials, locks the container with his own lock and key and seals the same. A reasonable time is given to the customer to load his cargo in the container. Delay beyond a reasonable period of time attracts monetary penalty in terms of detention charge. The loaded container may start for destination, if it is to be transported by road transport, which provides door-to-door delivery system using container to ensure cheap, reliable and speedy delivery.

However if such containerized cargo is required to be transported by Railway or ship then the sealed locked container will be required to be carried by a Road Transport (truck) from the customer’s premises to the container loading yard at Railway siding or the container terminal at the sea port. Here the containers are suitably stored with the help off a rubber tyred portainer crane. The storage location of such containers is scientifically planned using suitable computer programme for quick loading in wagon/ship without much handling. For loading of containers on wagon/ship rail mounted trans trainer cranes are used for speedy accurate loading. Such method of collection of cargo by container, storage of containers and loading same on the main transport minimizes detention time of the wagon/ship for cargo by above methods. These are then loaded on road transport for door delivery to the respective to the respective customer. As on date the most of the Indian Sea Ports are provided with computerized container terminal for ease of ship loading/unloading. This type of facility does not require large loading/unloading operation at the dock, and are carried out throughout day

Logistics support for bulk cargo
Bulk cargoes are generally transported within the country by Railway wagons. For import and export of bulk cargoes Ocean going vessels are used.

Bulk cargo for movement within the country includes movement of coal, iron ore, magnesite, food grain, milk, petroleum products, steel materials etc. Import and export of bulk cargo include crude oil, CNG, coking coal, inorganic fertilizers, automobiles, iron ore etc.

Bulk quantity of anthracite coal is transported for coal based thermal power plants. Loading of coal at mine pithead is the responsibility of the coal mining company, who generally uses electric operated coal loaders for loading of wagons. This is basically an electric operated traveling (EOT) crane with certain special attachment to load coal on wagons calling for large labour force. The Indian Railways have designed special wagon type BOBN with bottom discharge mechanism, which could be opened to discharge coal when the wagon is in motion. This allows unloading of coal-loaded wagon on the coal hopper at the power plant. These special purpose wagons continuously move between coalmines and coal-based power plant. These special purpose wagons are manufactured in India.

Steel plants require coking coal, which are mostly imported. Bulk carriers carrying such coking coal discharges the cargo via the ship unloader at the destination sea port to the wagons. Generally BOXN and/or BOXC type open wagons are used for such purposes.

These coal-loaded wagons are then hauled from the port siding to the concerned steel plant siding for unloading. At the steel plant generally wagon tippler is installed for unloading of coking coal directly on the coal feeder. This process reduces coal loading and unloading time at the port and at the steel plants respectively. This allows more utilization of the wagon.

Crude oil is imported into India with high capacity bulk carriers, which cannot come to Indian seaport because of shallow water. The crude oil is discharged at high sea into pipeline by the help of large capacity electric pump. The crude oil thus received is dispatched to the respective oil refineries through large underground pipeline network. Booster pump stations installed in strategic locations on the pipeline maintain desired level of pressure in the pipeline for free flow of the crude oil. Refined mineral oil from oil refinery in the form of petroleum, diesel and kerosene is dispatched to consumption center through Railway and also through Road transport. For bulk dispatch of refined mineral oil Railway wagons type BTPGL/BTPN/TPRC are used. These are tank wagons of adequate capacity and class for safe carriage of inflammable liquid. These are provided with drainpipe with suitable lock. At destination, these locks are opened to discharge the liquid. .

With the opening of Indian economy, Automobiles are imported into this country in bulk. These are loaded in specially designed ship called Roll on Roll of (RORO) ship. Here the cars are straight driven into the ship and are stacked. When the ship reaches the destination ports, the cars are driven out.

In earlier days, loading and unloading of transport used to be carried out manually involving large manpower. Such process was slow and unreliable. Subsequently the detention time of the transport used to be large. This reduced capacity utilization of transport facilities. Subsequently more investment was necessary in acquiring of transport fleet for the business. This made the transport business capital intensive. With modernization of material handling facilities at loading and unloading terminals, the loading and unloading of transport could be done with reasonable speed. This reduced detention period of transport, which in turn increased capacity utilization of the existing assets.


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