Ministry of Railways has formulated a policy on Automobile Freight Train Operator (AFTO) Scheme 2013 which supersedes earlier AFTO Scheme of 2010.
This Policy aims at increasing Indian Railways’ modal share in transportation of automobile traffic which is presently very meager. In addition, this policy provides an opportunity to logistics service providers and road transporters to invest in wagons and use advantage of rail transport to tie up with end users and market train services to create a win-win situation for railways and themselves. The salient features of AFTO scheme issued as per FM Circular No. 2 of 2013 are as follows:-
« Eligibility criteria:
Applicant should be
a) A registered company in India as per Companies Act 1956.
b) A subsidiary company of the above entity
c) A Joint venture company or partnership
d) A public sector entity in the business of logistics.
« The AFTO selected by the MOR shall have to deposit registration fee of ` 5 crores for a period of 20 years.
« The AFTO has to apply to ADV/ED FM with all details for a minimum 3 rakes.
« AFTO can either operate their trains between private terminals equipped to handle the traffic for which AFTO must have a tie up with such private terminals or use its own terminal/sidings for handling of such traffic or move from any rail terminal to any rail terminal on IR provided suitable handling facility is available and subject to payment of Terminal Access Charges as prescribed by IR from time to time.
« AFTO can take new wagons on lease from a wagon leasing company subject to necessary approvals by MOR. AFTO can also purchase or take on lease wagons procured under this scheme from another registered operator, in that particular category, subject to necessary approval by MOR. However, in such cases AFTO will run the rakes as per the freight rates stipulated for AFT.
« Maintenance of the wagons will be undertaken by IR at its own cost during the currency of the concession agreement. However, in case of wagons which will require special components for maintenance, a suitable provision will be made in the Concession Agreement so that the cost of procurement of such special components is defrayed by the investor.
« Automobile traffic will include passenger cars, two/three wheeler automobile units, mini trucks, tractors, chassis, shells of cars, automobiles moved in CKD condition.
« Rates as notified from time to time for the specific stock shall be applicable for such traffic moving in automobile rakes.
« The rates shall be separate for rakes running as loaded and those running as empty.
« Trains procured under AFT scheme will not be merged in the wagon pool of IR. Rakes comprising such wagons shall be identified as exclusively belonging to the AFTO who has procured them. Each rake shall have separate identification with the date of commercial commissioning in the FOIS
« The AFTO is free to run trains over IR provided the railway terminal is open for automobile booking, and the private terminal is also willing to handle automobile traffic. No NOC shall therefore be required for the routes from zonal railways.
« The AFTO shall however, nominate a base terminal from where it will operate so that a base maintenance depot can be nominated by the railways. The Agreement shall be with the Nominated Zonal Railway on which such a base depot is situated.
« The operator shall charge his customers for rail haulage, terminal handling, ground rent on a market determined basis and railways shall not exercise any control over such pricing/tariff.
The details of the policy can be seen in the website of the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) namely www.indianrailways.gov.in