Despite record loading of 6,518 wagons a day in February this year as compared with the previous best of 6,437 in March last year, South East Central Railway (SECR), the country's largest freight-loading zonal railway, may find it difficult to hit the targeted 153.5 million tonnes (mt) of traffic in 2011-12.

“We can at best hope to achieve 149-150 mt,” a spokesman for SECR told Business Line from Bilaspur. “Till February, we handled 135.98 mt. The monsoon months were particularly bad and the volume lost in those months could not be recovered despite improved loading in the remainder of the year.” In 2010-11, SECR handled 140.6 mt.

Dip in Coal loading

Coal accounts for an estimated 75 per cent of SECR's traffic and the overall shortfall could be attributed to the drop in coal loading. The target of 113.5 mt of coal traffic for the current fiscal is unlikely to be achieved. Till February, the coal throughput was 101.8 mt as against the target of 102.9 mt. The shortfall might rise to 1.5-2 mt by the end of March. “The flooded mines during the monsoon hit hard coal loading,” the spokesman said.

The loading of finished steel so far at 6.1 mt against the pro-rata target of 6.4 mt was largely due to unsatisfactory loading at Bhilai steel plant hit by problems at its coke ovens. Also, iron ore loading at Dalli-Rajhara mines, the steel plant's major source of ore, has dropped substantially due to various reasons. SECR's cement loading too will be lower this year. “Till recently, cement loading was bad, only improved recently and yet the total loading in 2011-12 will fall short of the targeted 14.85 mt,” the spokesman said.

However, the throughput of foodgrains has been satisfactory: 2.4 mt so far against the pro-rata target of 1.8 mt and last year's 1.4 mt. “The procurement at Chhattisgarh has been good,” the spokesman said, adding that large quantities were being exported through Kakinada and Visakhapatnam ports.

In February, SECR topped the list of five major freight-loading zonal railways in terms of daily wagon loading: SECR (Bilaspur), 6,518 wagons; East Coast Railway (Bhubaneswar), 5,521; South Central Railway (Secunderabad), 4,808; South Eastern Railway (Kolkata), 4,636; and East Central Railway (Hajipur, Patna), 4,401.

(This article was published on March 9, 2012)
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