The pilot project initiated by Indian Railways in December 2008 to transport cars on rail has been commercialised and will be extended to other parts of the country.
"There are plans to establish services for the transportation of cars from the auto hubs in Delhi to Chennai and from Delhi to Pune in the coming months. The process of issuing tenders for the construction of modified wagons has begun," an official from the Society of Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) said.
The first experiment to transport cars on railway lines was conducted by the railways in collaboration with Maruti Suzuki for the transport of the latter's A-Star brand. Cars were transported from Gurgaon railway station to Mundhra port in Gujarat. The A-Stars were then exported to European markets.
The rail line between Gurgaon to Mundhra and Gurgaon to Chennai has been activated for use by other car manufacturers also, said a statement by the railways. There are two dedicated trains each, with 45 wagons. Siam officials said there were plans to increase the number of trains to 10. Each train can transport 270 small cars. The new trains will have facilities to transport even larger vehicles, like Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs).
A Maruti executive said it cost about Rs 6,500 to transport a small car via road from their factory in Gurgaon to Mundhra. "Factoring a current discount of 25 per cent the railways offer, it costs almost the same to transport a single car on rail. But this discount is seasonal. Costs may go up," he said.