In yet another step towards improving the economic prospects of the Northeast and upgrading the region’s links with the mainland, the first Parcel Cargo Express Train (PCET), a freight train, took off from Guwahati in Assam to Kalyan in Maharashtra, on Thursday afternoon.
According to The Indian Express, the PCET will run twice a month. In certain quarters of the government, the move, linking the Northeast to markets across the country, particularly in cities like Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, and Bengaluru, been hailed as a massive “leap forward”.
“The Northeast is rich, but there are several transportation bottlenecks — therefore local produce does not end up finding a market outside the region,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer of Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR), told The Indian Express (TIE).
The PCET, he believes, will change that reality. Tea, lakadong turmeric, ginger, betel nut, kew pineapple, wax and cane are among the goods which will be transported.
This development comes as a significant boon for the region’s farm community, agro-based and other small scale industries. The PCET will also ensure the supply of essential medicines, army CSD consignments, raw materials for Continuous Process Plants, construction material and other necessary supplies from the West Coast to the Northeast, according to the Financial Express.
“PCET is a timetabled train with definite departure and arrival dates like Express trains. So unlike other goods trains which tend to get delayed due to precedence given to passenger traffic, the PCET is accorded high operational priority,” added Sharma.
What’s also important to note is the timing of PCET’s launch. With the monsoons around the corner, the region, especially the state of Assam, will require a sufficient stock of essential supplies and using its potentially flooded roads to transport goods is out of the question. Reports contend that one PCET can carry goods equivalent to a consignment of 52 trucks.
Since the dawn of liberalisation in the 1990s, the Indian economy has undergone rapid transformation, breaking the shackles of state control one step at a time and bringing in much-awaited prosperity.
A region that has been missing in this story is the Northeast. One hopes that this changes, starting with the PCET.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)