At a time when the core sector growth
has slowed down, the railways has posted a 5 per cent rise in its freight volume
for the first five months of the current financial year (FY18), pushed by double-digit growth
in loadings of commodities like steel, iron ore, and cement.
For the April-August period in 2017-18, railway freight loading stood at 467.73 million tonnes (mt), compared to 446 mt and 452.19 mt during the same period in 2016-17 and 2015-16, respectively.
The increase in freight volume
was mainly due to double-digit growth
rates in originating loading for steel
(22.3 per cent), iron ore
(22.8 per cent), cement
(12.6 per cent), and container (12.3 per cent).
“The trend in the month of September is also positive and we expect to achieve a loading of 4-5 mt incremental loading this month. Recent initiatives like freight concessions for double-stack containers, liberalised automatic freight rebate scheme in empty flow directions, rationalised distance slabs above 1,500 km to 3,500 km and withdrawal of port congestion charges helped us post these figures,” said Mohammed Jamshed, member (traffic), Railway Board. The new concessional freight structure, he added, had brought down the overall logistics
cost in the country.
Interestingly, coal, which constitutes a major component of railway freight, has only seen a marginal increase in loading from 208 rakes (train load) in 2016-17 to 214 rakes a day during the first five months of FY18. According to officials, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, in a recent meeting in Kolkata, asked Coal
India to increase this to 250 rakes a day as coal
demand from the power sector was increasing. Goyal is also the coal
of eight core sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement, and electricity — slowed to 0.4 per cent in June from 7 per cent a year ago.