Tirupati (AP): By cutting down travel time between Krishnapatnam Port and the hinterland here by five hours, a 112-km line has come as a boon for India Inc which is now saving up to Rs 7 lakh per rake towards freight transport.

Touted to be a game-changer, the Obulavaripalli-Venkatachalam-Krishnapatnam Port line, commissioned on June 25, also reduces the travel distance by 72 km for trains coming from Guntakal division to the port.

After this new line coming into operation, the freight rate per rake for different commodities has gone down significantly, Alok Tiwari, the divisional railway manager (DRM) of Guntakal division, said.

"For coal, it varies from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh; for fertilizers, it is between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh; for iron ore, it is about Rs 6 lakh and for limestone also it is Rs 5.25 lakh," he said The newly-built single line, which features India's longest electrified tunnel of 6.6 km from Cherlopalli and Rapuru railway stations, was constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 1,993 crore in a record time of 43 months.

Also, the ambitious tunnel, built at a cost of Rs 437 crore, has 44 trolley refuges and 14 cross-passages in a horse shoe shape.

According to Tiwari, the South Central Railway (SCR) is hopeful that with the reduction in travel distance and time, there will be more freight trains moving through this line, translating into increase of the revenue for the railways.

Presently, after the commissioning of the new line which is only for freight movement, 12 goods trains -- six from each side -- are taking this line daily.

A significant part of the SCR's freight loading is generated from Krishnapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh's Nellore district.

Besides facilitating the operation of freight trains on the Obulavaripalli-Venkatachalam-Krishnapatnam Port route, the new line would also provide the shortest path for the Chennai-Howrah and Chennai-Mumbai railway routes.

It will also ease congestion of both passenger trains and freight trains in the Vijayawada-Gudur-Renigunta-Guntakal section.

The new route, along with the recent concessions allowed by the railways for freight movement, has come at a time when the country is facing economic slowdown.

Recently, the railways deferred the levy of busy season charge, waiver of supplementary charges on mini and two point rakes, discount on movement of empty containers and empty flat wagons and round-trip charging on container traffic among others. "A number of concrete measures have been taken up to give concessions to freight customers and attract our long term customers. This is also because for the last couple of months, the flood like situations in southern states have affected us slightly, like the cement loading is completely down, iron ore, which was imported is no more imported as there is a ban on it," Gajanan Mallya, the general manager, SCR, said.

He said even coal, for that matter, is almost entirely produced in the country and there is hardly any import of coal at present. (PTI)

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