The Ministry of Railways makes online booking mandatory for freight transport from November 1

In line with its attempts to digitize its records, the Ministry of Railways has made online check-in mandatory for freight transport with the national carrier. The new guidelines will come into effect from November 1.

According to the notification issued by the ministry on Monday, the decision was taken “with the aim of achieving digitalization, minimizing rolling stock detention and streamlining transactions in the freight sector.”

The new guidelines will apply to all withdrawals placed with zonal railways, with the exception of military traffic, goods transported during natural disasters and events identified as force majeure by the authorities.

The new policy will replace the current practice of contacting freight clerks to register the request for railcars, and the necessary changes to the digital infrastructure will be undertaken by the Center for Rail Information Systems (CRIS) and Information Systems on cargo operations (FOIS).

“The necessary changes will be introduced into the system by CRIS/FOIS to enable e-RD (request registration) as the default option for railcar demand registration,” the notification reads.

An official said the loading of rakes in high demand areas is delayed due to the need for physical registration and verification at the time of booking and loading. These processes, once brought online, can contribute marginally to national carriers’ attempts to reduce car turnaround time.

As part of its “Hungry For Cargo” mission, the railways aim to register 2000 million tonnes (mt) by 2024.

Recently, the ministry also digitized the entire process of applying for and awarding non-tariff revenue contracts such as parking operations, parcel space, and commercial advertising. So far, the national carrier has earned Rs 844 crore from the electronic auction model.

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