Indian railways are fast becoming the preferred option for several automakers to transport units from one place to another in the country and Maruti Suzuki has been taking the lead for some time now. Maruti Suzuki informed Tuesday that in the past five years, it has transported more than 7.2 lakh of cars through the country’s vast and complex rail network.
Transporting vehicles in a country as diverse as India can often be a challenge and although transport trucks have been around for years and years, Indian railways have also been seen as a viable option these last time. Maruti Suzuki says that not only is this transportation option safer and more secure, but it has also helped it offset over 3,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions, cumulatively.
(Related reading: Rail on the road is quickly becoming the preferred option for transporting cars. Here’s why)
Maruti Suzuki shipped 1.8 lakh in just 2020-2021 using the railroad option – around 13% of its total sales during this period. This is the highest figure on record for the country’s largest automaker. Up to 1.78 lakh units were transported by rail in 2019 (full report here)
Using the rail option can make a lot of sense, as it also helps decongest the country’s national highways. “Transporting finished vehicles by rail has many tangible benefits. It is a clean and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, ”explained Kenichi Ayukawa, MD and CEO of Maruti Suzuki India. “As part of a conscious effort at Maruti Suzuki, we have taken important steps to improve vehicle transportation by rail.”
Maruti started taking the rail option to transport his vehicles in 2014 and says he has since saved more than 100,000 truck trips on the country’s highways.
Indian Railways have also pushed car manufacturers to assess the many benefits of using its special coaches. Its design arm – Research Design and Standard’s Organization – had come up with something called BCACM that doubled the capacity of trains for ferry cars – from 125 units at one time to around 265. A later upgrade of the design brought that number to 318 cars at speeds of up to 95 km / h.
Maruti Suzuki is also the first automobile manufacturer in the country to obtain the Automobile Freight Train Operator (AFTO) license. This allows private companies to manufacture and operate high-speed, high-capacity rakes on the Indian Railway network. Currently, Maruti uses five loading terminals – Gurugram, Farukhnagar, Kathuwas, Patli and Detroj. There are 15 destination terminals which include major cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai – among others, as well as the port of Mundra in Gujarat.
Many other OEMs also use rail services to transport vehicles from factories across the country. This includes Mahindra and Mahindra, Kia, among others.