Maruti Suzuki India Limited has transported over 7.2 lakh vehicles using Indian railways in the past five years. In 2020-21, more than 1.8 lakh vehicles took the rail route for transportation, the highest-ever railway despatch by the Company, as against nearly 88,000 units in 2016-17. The increased focus on using railways has helped the Company offset over 3,200 MT of CO2 emissions, cumulatively.
The Company has been progressively increasing the use of railways for its vehicle transportation. Transportation by rail exceeded 1.8 lakh in 2020-21, which accounts for nearly 13% of total sales in the same period.
Background on Maruti Suzuki’s collaboration with Indian Railways
Maruti Suzuki, a pioneer in the use of railways to ferry finished vehicles, has come a long way from using a single deck converted rakes to deploying high speed, high capacity new design double deck rakes. The operations started with the use of railway wagons (converted from old passenger coaches). These single deck wagons had a rake capacity to transport 125 cars.
With growing volumes, there was a need for a shift to high capacity dedicated wagons. Accordingly, Indian Railways’ design arm RDSO (Research Design and Standard’s Organization) took feedback from vehicle manufacturers, including Maruti Suzuki. RDSO developed a new design, twin-deck rake that doubled the carrying capacity to 265 cars. Over 140,000 Maruti Suzuki cars were transported through these twin-deck rakes.
In the spirit of kaizen, RDSO further developed the rakes to improve the carrying capacity by 20 per cent. These changes were based on inputs from Maruti Suzuki and other OEMs and brought in wider flexibility to carry vehicles of varying dimension and also have capability for faster speeds. These rakes carry up to 318 cars and can be operated at speeds of 95/km per hour, highest for any goods train in India. All these improvements, including higher speeds brings in operational efficiency.
Till date, 36 high-speed and high-capacity rakes are in active use by Maruti Suzuki and its service providers for despatch of its vehicles. Maruti Suzuki is the first auto manufacturer in the country to obtain Automobile Freight Train Operator (AFTO) license. This allows private firms to fabricate and operate high speed, high capacity auto-wagon rakes on the Indian Railway’s network.
At present, Maruti Suzuki utilises five loading terminals (Gurgaon, Farukhnagar, Kathuwas, Patli and Detroj) and 15 destination terminals (Bangalore, Nagpur, Mumbai, Guwahati, Mundra Port, Indore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, NCR, Siliguri, Coimbatore, Pune, and Agartala). With the addition of Agartala, the reach of rail mode has extended to North East. It has also helped to reduce the transportation time to states in East India by nearly half.
Explaining the objective of using railways for transporting vehicles, Mr Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director & CEO, Maruti Suzuki India said, “The transportation of finished vehicles via railways has many tangible benefits. It is a clean, environment-friendly mode of transportation. It reduces congestion on highways and there is more space available to other vehicles. Therefore, as a conscious effort at Maruti Suzuki, we have taken important steps to enhance vehicle transportation via railways. We thank the Ministry of Railways for their support, which helped to increase our volumes transported via rail. In the last five years, over 7.2 lakh vehicles have been dispatched via railways, nearly 1.8 lakh by far the highest in FY2021 alone.”