INDIA’s Konkan Railway Corp announced in January that it was to launch a piggyback service to carry lorries between Kolard, south of Mumbai, and Suratkal near Mangalore. The 700 km trip is expected to take around 20h, compared to three days for a road journey on the congested coastal highway.

KRC Managing Director B Rajaram expects to carry 60 trucks per train at a toll of Rs5000 each. The service will run to a regular timetable, and shippers will have to reserve in advance. Drivers will be allowed to travel with their vehicles.

Following an attempt last year to gain access to the tracks at each end of the line, which are controlled by Indian Railways, piggyback is seen as a way for KRC to tap major traffic generators which it does not quite reach. KRC’s revenues for 1998 were below budget at Rs510m from freight and Rs180m from passenger traffic - sufficient to cover operating costs but not the Rs3bn annual financing charge. This year Rajaram expects to earn Rs750m and Rs200m respectively.