Railways to diversify its freight basket: Suresh Prabhu

Panaji: Union Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday said the Railways need to diversify its freight basket over a period of time and that private-public partnership (PPP) initiatives are the best to accommodate smaller quantities of cargo.

“Railways traditionally have been doing business in bulk commodities, that too in ten major commodities including ore and cement among others,” Prabhu said addressing third conference on logistics organised by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in Panaji.

“What is important now is that over a period of time, we will have to diversify the freight basket and to do that, we need smaller quantities of freight,” he said. The minister said the best way in which smaller quantities of cargo can be accommodated is through the PPP initiative.

“There are players who can bring in cargo to the railway point. There are private freight terminals which can keep them and then it can go in the railways,” Prabhu told a gathering of industrialists here.

The vision document to make Indian Railways the best in the world by 2030, is ready and the ground work has started, he said. Prabhu said that Railways is working on a structured plan which will encourage multi-modal transportation.

It will help in connecting ports, he said adding his ministry is working with other ministries to make all these things a reality.

Referring to the new GST regime, Prabhu said, “many things have happened in India, and this is the right time to take those things ahead.”

“Five days ago, we created a unified market by bringing in a path-breaking legislation. Now we can move goods from one place to another without any hindrance,” he said. Prabhu also said that this is right time to think about logistics as a new destination for investment.