SALEM: Industrialists in the region, who are affected by the ongoing nationwide truckers’ strike that began on Friday, seem to have found another quick and cheaper alternative in the railways to transport goods.
The strike has, in fact, boosted the freight business of Salem division of Southern Railway. Since last Wednesday, when the truckers under the umbrella body of All India Motor Transport Congress announced the strike, quantity of goods that the Salem railway division handled has almost doubled, compared to the same period in the previous year. The revenue has also shot up by 164%.
From July 18 to 25 alone, the Salem railway division’s freight movement had gone up by 95.5% to 19,397 quintal goods, from 9,921 quintal goods in the corresponding period, last year. Its revenue from freight handling subsequently shot up to Rs 1.01 crore during the period from Rs 38.37 lakh.
A railway official said at least five new major clients in the western region had booked bulk transport of their goods by train this week. “There has been a lot of demand from dealers of perishable goods, which are mostly fruits and vegetables. They cannot afford to wait because the goods will spoil and (they) are required daily,” said railways commercial manager, A Vijuvin. “While SJR and Sons has booked transport of 59 tonne perishable goods to Shalimar from Coimbatore, KRK and Co has booked 110 tonne perishable goods from Erode to Raipur.”
A few other industries have also approached the railways for immediate transport of their goods. While Karur-based Shobikaa Impex Limited has booked 588 tonne load of medicated mosquito nets to Chennai, Uthukuzhi-based Sakthi Auto Component Limited has booked 391 tonne load to Gurgaon and Tirupur-based G P Transport has booked 92 tonne load to Howrah.
While these are a few of the major bulk load clients from the Coimbatore region, many business houses and traders have booked smaller packages with the railways. “Many businesses, including pump sets, small furniture, garments, saris, candles and leather goods, have booked with us parcels weighing 50kg-60kg,” said an official in Coimbatore.
For a business economy that’s largely dependent on road transport, the truckers’ strike has affected many businesses, including automobile, textiles, construction, pumps and foundries. Since the railways is the only mode of transport, which has the reach that trucks enjoy and is cheaper, most business houses have begun considering rail transport.