Ref: NUR-C/RTN/20-21 14/05/2020
The Member (O),
Postal Services Board,
New Delhi 110001.
Sub: To consider consultation of service unions while expanding the scope of RTN - reg
My union has learnt that a communication dated 04/05/2020 addressed to all the Heads of circles has been sent regarding floating of tenders to hire vehicles for operating a RTN service on contractual basis along with required action to be taken by circles in said letter. It gives a very clear impression that Department of Posts has decided to replace the existing rail mode of transmitting mails through the Road Transport Network. It is nothing but a onslaught against the well established Railway Mail Service after abolition of Sorting Sections done in early 1980s. There can be no second opinion on the objective to transmit mails faster and quicker with the fastest mode. With that intent in mind the service unions did not precipitate the issue of operating RTN on experimental basis. Such a policy shift issue should have been given a careful thought duly considering the criticalities such as returns secured by department on the funds allotted so far by the Directorate to circles under the model Road Transport Development Network, the internal rate of return achieved so far circle-wise, the average parcels/mails load that have been handled by each such route where RTN was deployed. The economics of scale achieved on account of Engaging CMMS under RTN have to be quantified so that we could have better lessons before us on gaps and failures. It has been stated in the letter circle should work towards making All India RTN for transporting mail by August 15th, 2020. We as an association are not totally blind to the new ideas but all what we wanted to record is that a measured approach is essential at this very critical juncture where the COVID19 has not spared any of global economies and more particularly India cannot afford to invest in non prudential areas where the returns are grossly negative. The misconception about need for reliving ourselves from dependence on railways is highly condemnable. To substantiate Department of Posts has majorly relied upon private air carriers and Special Cargo Express Trains to transmit the postal mail at the crucial lock down period. Though RTN also helped to a extant the utilization of Special Cargo Express Trains would amply demonstrate that its services could not be ignored.
2. My union has expressed serious reservations on earlier attempts of department while implementing many of unworkable projects. To mention a few, owning independent cargo freighter for carrying mails, introduction of Express Parcel etc were uncalled for. Our Suggestions were thrown in air. After incurring huge loss to government exchequer such services were withdrawn. Carrying out risky experiments at the cost of public exchequer and abandoning such projects by successive administrations at later stage establishes the lethargic attitude of murdering one’s own conscience.
3. At this back drop on behalf of my union I would like to record the following for consideration before carrying forward the expansion plan of RTN.
4. The core objectives of the department is to deal with collection, processing and delivering mails. The secondary allied activity of transmission cannot be undertaken as a primary activity which would increase the cost of operations manifold to the department. Dependence on railways should be treated as self supporting by two arms of a government which should aim to reap the synergies between the departments rather than aiding the private players. There should be a concept paper elaborating the need for substituting the rail network by RTN, internal rate of return on huge investment in procuring vehicles and spending in hiring of vehicles more particularly at the critical time of economic downturn where the saving every penny is priority of government due to which the DA of the government employees itself has been frozen. So any plan for investment/spending should have prudent returns to the government.
5. Not feasible for intra Circle:- Given the scope of traffic congestion due to increased vehicle movements the running of RTN within the circle will consume more running hours resulting in late arrival/belated connection of mails at ICH/NSH/L1/L2. Whereas at present the present sections operate within the targeted time bound running time.
6. For inter Circle: - The RTN between neighboring circles would also hit the road block as it has to be operated only after 20.00 Hrs ( after receipt of PO Mails). The running time will be more than or at least (10) Hrs say between Vijayawada- Chennai or Bangalore to New Delhi. The mails will reach the destination only in the morning. As such given the failure of second delivery any mail failed to be processed in night would suffer one day detention and delay. As such RTN at this corridor also would be fragile.
7. In case of Sections where the mails for the intermediary L1/L2/ICH/NSH/PH can be segregated, collected, and offloaded whereas such added advantages cannot be expected in RTN. Bulk loading and stoppage at very few select locations alone is feasible.
8. Huge investment in procuring new Vehicles besides projection of recurring costs to MoF, Shortage of drivers in MMS across the country is another cause of road block.
9. Hiring contractual vehicles for select routes without justified load result in drain to the government exchequer especially at times of this economic turmoil caused by COVID19. The payments to railways rather on other hand would anyhow ensure that money gets swapped within two pockets of the same government coffers.
The above are only a very a few apprehensions. There are lot more. Accordingly, my union suggest that the Department should also engage the service unions in the consultative process where we can discuss the strengths and weakness of the proposal thread bare so that the blunders committed in the past are not repeated. History could have forgotten the earlier blunders but the nation cannot afford a repeat further more of such ill-conceived projects. With a belief that due attention will be given to the contents of this letter and service unions and all stake holders would be consulted before further going ahead on said expansion plan.
N.K Tyagi.General Secretary