Indian Railways logs higher freight loading in a first for FY21

In a sign of economic revival, the Indian Railways on Monday posted higher freight loading for the first time in this financial year.

The national transporter handled 3.13 million tonnes (mt) freight on July 27, up 0.3 per cent compared to 3.12 mt on the same day last financial year.

This rise comes after a quiet period of more than five months in the freight segment owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On the other hand, for the current financial year, the freight traffic handled between April 1 and July 27 stood at 322.69 mt, down 18 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

“This is a sign of economic revival. We have taken so many steps during this crisis time to achieve this. This includes completion of 200 infrastructure works that were stuck during this time. In addition, the average speed of freight trains increased to an average of 45 kmph this month, compared to 23 kmph before the lockdown,” Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav told the media on Tuesday. 

He said the Railways was targeting at least 50 per cent higher loading, compared to last year. 

In 2019-20, Railways had reported a decline in freight traffic for the first time in 18 years to 1,210.46 mt, down 1 per cent over 2018-19.

The average speed of freight trains on July 27 was 46.16 kmph, which was more than double against last year’s 22.52 kmph. Among the zones, West Central Railway saw an average speed of 54.23 kmph, Northeast Frontier Railway at 51 kmph, East Central Railway at 50.24 kmph, East Cost Railway at 41.78 kmph, South East Central Railway at 42.83 kmph, South Eastern Railway at 43.24 kmph, and Western Railway at 44.4 kmph.

On July 27, the Railways loaded 1,039 rakes, including 76 of foodgrains, 67 of fertiliser, 49 of steel, 113 of cement, 113 of iron ore and 363 of coal.

“These improvements in freight movements will be institutionalised and incorporated in the upcoming zero-based time table. These steps will lead to significantly higher freight traffic and earnings for Railways and cost-competitive logistics for the entire country,” he said.

“To improve freight traffic, we had taken steps such as removing the busy season surcharge and continuing with schemes like mini rakes and two-point rakes. 

This helped us in recovering freight traffic during the latter part of the last financial year,” said P S Mishra, member (traffic), Railway Board. 

Among commodities, foodgrain saw an increase of 80 per cent, from April 1 to July 27 this year to 20.81 mt, compared to 11.58 mt during the same time last year.  However, the major breadwinner coal traffic was seen 27 per cent for the period under review at 144.75 mt.

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