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Exporters hail measures to improve rail network to ports

Welcoming the Railway Budget, exporters on Thursday said, the announcements related to augmentation of rail network and port connectivity would help traders. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said that rail side warehousing would encourage development of cold storage facilities on vacant land near freight terminals. The Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) said the Railway Budget has spelt out a map for improving port connectivity that will result in ease of doing business and lowering transaction costs for exporters and importers.

EEPC India Chairman T S Bhasin said the announcement to develop rail side logistics parks and warehousing in PPP mode would also help the country's exporters. "Setting up of India's first rail auto hub in Chennai and development of cold storage facilities on vacant land near freight terminals would go a long way in helping the country's internal and external trade and industry," he said in a statement.

He also said that the connectivity to ports on the 7,517 km coastline by the railways will yield positive results for exporters who are always battling the issue of poor infrastructure. The Railway Budget for 2016-17 on Thursday spared passengers and goods movement from any increase in tariffs while it announced introduction of three new superfast trains and creation of dedicated north-south, east-west and east coast freight corridors by 2019. "We need to look beyond the current approach to expand the basket (of freight commodities). We will make sure we recapture the traffic," Prabhu said adding railways need to "reorganise, restructure and rejuvenate."

The three new superfast trains announced by him include 'Humsafar' which will be a fully air-conditioned 3AC service with option of meals. 'Tejas' will showcase the future of train travel in India with speeds up to 130 km per hour with onboard services such as entertainment, local cuisine and wifi. The two trains will ensure cost recovery through tariff and non-tariff measures while 'Uday' will be an overnight double-decker along with 'Utkrishit' double-decker air-conditioned yatri express on the busiest routes.

For improving quality of travel for unreserved passenger, a superfast 'Antyodya' express service would be introduced. 'Deen Dayalu' unreserved coaches with portable water and higher number of mobile charging points would also be introduced. He also announced setting up of a Rail Development Authority to enable fair pricing of services, promote competition, protect customer interest and determine efficiency standards. The draft Bill in this regard will be ready after holding extensive stakeholder consultations. 

India Railways have a saving of Rs 8,720 crore from previous budget estimates, Prabhu said. This year, "we hope to generate revenues to the order of Rs 1,84,820 crores." 
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