`The overall increase in earnings in the first nine months of this financial year was Rs 962 crore more than what the Railways had budgeted and Rs 2,470 crore more than what it had earned in the first nine months of last year.'

Our Bureau

Chennai, Jan. 30

THE Indian Railways is on course to meeting the earnings target for this financial year going by the trend of revenue collection in the first nine months of the year.

Both freight and passenger earnings have shown growth in the first nine months and have exceeded what the Railways budgeted for. However, working expenses for the nine-month period are also more than what had been provided for.

Giving this information here Ms Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan, Financial Commissioner (Railways), has said the increase in working expenses was mainly on account of increase in price of diesel and steel.

During the April-December 2004, the Railways had loaded 31 million tonnes of cargo more than in the same period of last year and was set to exceed the target for the year.

Against 407 million tonnes loaded in the April-December 2003 period, this year, the Railways handled 438 million tonnes, a 7.6 per cent increase. This increase came mainly from iron ore and coal. The target for the year was 580 million tonnes against 557 million tonnes last year.

Ms Viswanathan said the Railways had earned Rs 952 crore more from freight than what had been budgeted for the first nine months of this year and Rs 1,836 crore more than the revenue in the first nine months of last year. Up to December this year, the Railways earned Rs 21,973 crore, a 9 per cent growth.

On the passenger side, the Railways has earned Rs 37 crore more than what it had budgeted for in the first nine months, Ms Viswanathan said. It had earned Rs 10,425 crore during the nine-month period this year, a 5 per cent increase over the same period last year.

She said the overall increase in earnings in the first nine months of this financial year was Rs 962 crore more than what the Railways had budgeted and Rs 2,470 crore more than what it had earned in the first nine months of last year. "The earnings are likely to exceed budgeted target based on current levels," she said.

The Financial Commissioner was talking to reporters after the inaugural session of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Railways Accounts Service.

She said that the Railways had introduced electronic payment service for the Badarpur thermal station of National Thermal Power Corporation from January 19.

This would be on trial for the next three months after which the Railways would extend similar facility to other large users. Electronic tendering facility would be introduced before the end of this financial year in the Northern Railway and extended to other zonal railways, she said.

Inaugurating the celebrations, Dr Raja J. Chelliah, Chairman, Madras School of Economics, said the Railways should concentrate on long haul transportation of goods and leave short haul movement to the road sector.

He was also against subsidising railway services, especially second-class passenger fares by charging freight more.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 31, 2005)
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