Private container train operators demand tariff regulator

The Association of Container Train Operators, or ACTO, lobby group said Tuesday the government should set up a rail tariff regulatory authority for rational, transparent freight rates.

Indian Railways had opened up the rail transportation of containers in 2006 to private operators that had already invested more than Rs4,000 crore in wagons, containers and terminals in addition to Rs650 crore for securing a licence from the government.

However, the group said rail haulage charges have been increased eight times during the last seven years since deregulation, resulting in a cumulative increase of 73%-128% in different weight slabs, while tariffs for transport of bulk cargo by rail, in which investment in wagons is by the Railways themselves, has increased by a mere 32% over the same period.

The railway ministry prescribes haulage charges for transportation of containers by rail from time to time. These operators, including state-run Container Corp. of India Ltd, pay haulage charges to the ministry for using the railways’ track, locomotives, signalling infrastructure and staff for running their container trains to ports from inland locations and back.

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