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Monday June 17, 2024

Streamlining logistics

By Mansoor Ahmad
June 02, 2023

LAHORE: Upcountry industrialists look to government action to effectively regulate the transportation industry and initiate efficient goods transportation through railways, which can significantly reduce transport costs.The efficiency of goods transport operations on Pakistan's railways has been influenced by various factors, including infrastructure, technology, management practices, and policy frameworks. The condition of railway infrastructure, including tracks, bridges, and signaling systems, plays a vital role in ensuring efficient operations. Investments in maintaining and upgrading infrastructure can help improve the efficiency and reliability of goods transport.

Efficient operations require optimizing the network layout and minimizing bottlenecks. Analyzing traffic flows, identifying key corridors, and implementing appropriate scheduling and routing strategies can enhance operational efficiency. Embracing technology solutions such as advanced tracking systems, data analytics, and automated processes can significantly improve the efficiency of goods transport operations. These technologies can enhance planning, scheduling, and monitoring, leading to better resource utilization and faster delivery times.

Integrating railways with other modes of transportation, such as roads and ports, can provide seamless connectivity and enhance overall logistics efficiency. Developing multimodal transport networks and facilitating smooth transfers between different modes can lead to improved goods transport operations.

Implementing supportive policies and regulatory frameworks can encourage private sector participation, promote competition, and drive operational improvements. Streamlining administrative processes and reducing bureaucratic hurdles can also contribute to efficiency gains. Enhancing the skills and knowledge of railway personnel through training programs can improve operational efficiency. This includes training for train drivers, technicians, maintenance staff, and management personnel to ensure they have the necessary expertise to handle modern railway systems.

Ensuring the safety and security of goods during transport is crucial. Implementing robust safety protocols, utilizing technology for tracking and monitoring cargo, and addressing security concerns can help improve the efficiency and reliability of goods transport operations.

The cost of transporting a 40-foot container from Karachi to Lahore by truck is equivalent to the freight cost of the same container from Shanghai to Karachi. One railway engine can pull 60-80 bogies, each with a capacity of 80 tons, on the railway track. The freight cost could be very low compared to trucks.Currently, all the dry ports upcountry are inoperative as importers distrust the unreliable railway schedule at seaports, which delays deliveries. Shipping lines charge $100 per day from the importer if the empty container is not sent back within 10 days of unloading. The railways charge less freight, but the schedule is uncertain. Sometimes goods remain lying on goods trains for two to three weeks before they leave the port.

In most countries, the dispatch of goods from port to dry ports in that country is the responsibility of the shipping lines. This saves importers a lot of hassle. If shipping lines were made responsible for delivery of goods at a few dry ports like Lahore and Faisalabad, it would ease congestion at seaports and there would be no need for bonded carriers. Currently, there is a huge amount of pilferage of goods on the 1250 km journey of the bonded carriers from ports to Lahore, which could be avoided.