The current trend of traffic throughput leaves South-East Central Railway (SECR), the country’s largest freight-loading zonal railway, worried. There has been virtually no growth in first seven months of the current fiscal till October -- 84.11 million tonnes (mt) as compared with 83.92 mt in the same period of the last year or a meagre growth of 0.19 mt. The pro-rata target for the period was set at 88.38 mt. If this trend persists, achieving the targeted throughput of 158 million tonnes (mt) by March 31, 2013 will be out of question.

SECR’s total traffic for 2012-13 has been targeted at 158 mt as against 150.7 mt handled in 2011-12. Inquiries reveal that coal traffic, accounting for nearly 75 per cent of SECR’s total traffic, has virtually stagnated and that too at a time when almost the entire incremental traffic of eight mt targeted for the current fiscal is to come from coal.

The railway sources would attribute the poor coal handling to not-so-satisfactory loading by the coal companies. “We all know the monsoon months starting from June are bad but this year the loading was bad even in April and May”, the sources observe. “The road-bridging (i.e. road transportation of coal from pitheads to nearest railheads) left much to be desired”.

Till September, the IB Valley coalfields under Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd loaded 14.16 mt as compared with 14.9 mt in the same period of last year. The same is true about South Eastern Coalfields Ltd’s (SECL) CIC collieries loading 10.14 mt (10.4 mt). The loading at SECL’s Korba mines was up at 12.78 mt (11.3 mt). “We, almost daily, talk to coal companies as to how to step up loading and we together will do whatever is possible to do, but we concede that there are problems”, the sources observe.

SECR’s cement loading, so far, this year too has been bad -- down by 11 per cent. “The improvement in loading of other commodities such as food-grains and containerised traffic could not compensate the loss”, the sources add.

(This article was published on November 6, 2012)
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