Railways far from achieving freight traffic target

Santanu Sanyal | Updated on October 14, 2012 Published on October 14, 2012

Indian Railways was expected to handle a total traffic of 1,025 MT in 2012-13 compared with 970 MT in 2011-12.

The Indian Railways has reasons to feel worried if the traffic trend in the first half of the current fiscal is any indication. During the period, the throughput of incremental traffic was 22.21 million tonnes (MT) against 27 MT or so targeted (pro-rata) for the period. “If this trend persists during the remainder of the year, achieving the throughput targeted for the whole year will be out of question,” said a senior official of the Railway Board.

The Indian Railways was expected to handle a total traffic of 1,025 MT in 2012-13 compared with 970 MT in 2011-12, thus, an incremental traffic of 55 MT, of which an estimated 27 MT was supposed to be handled in the first half and the balance 28 MT in the second half, which is generally considered to be a busy season in railway parlance. Thus, there is a shortfall of about 5 MT from the target in the first half. “In the first half, there was hardly any iron ore traffic, coal loading was far from satisfactory and cement movement insignificant,” the official observed, adding, “Where is the targeted incremental traffic going to come from?”

Bleak future

Therefore, the Railways is pinning a good deal of hope on the second half (October to March). With the monsoon coming to an end, the October loading has started showing signs of improvement.

South East Central Railway (SECR), the country’s largest freight-loading zonal railway, presents no different picture. In first six-months, SECR handled freight traffic of 71.22 MT as against the target of 75.42 MT.

Inquiries reveal that four months, from May to August, were particularly bad due to the slump in traffic demand, in addition to heavy rains in July, August and September. SECR sources are not sure if the 158 MT of traffic targeted for the whole year (2012-13) could be achieved. In the present state of the economy, the shortfall of more than 4 MT from the target might not be easy to make up in the coming six months.

Coal loading

East Coast Railway (ECoR), a major freight loading zonal railway, handled 61.48 MT in the first half, against the target of 63.03 MT. The loading in the months of August and September was bad, as coal loading at Talcher mines dropped sharply. Coal, domestic and imported together, accounts for more than 50 per cent of ECoR’s total traffic.

The average daily loading at Talcher declined to 20 to 21 rakes a day against 29 to 30 rakes in July. The imported coal loading scenario too was bad, with the drop in requisitions for rakes from the ports of Visakhapatnam, Gangavaram and Dhamra, mainly due to heavy rains. However, some loading took place at Paradip.

The traffic throughput of the Kirandul-Kottavalasa line, used for transportation of iron ore from Bailadila mines in Chhattisgarh to Visakahpatnam, too left much to be desired due to various reasons, such as the suspension of production in the mines due to heavy rains, pricing issue entailing drop in demand and then there was the usual law and problem. Yet, ECoR is hopeful of achieving the targeted 130 MT in 2012-13, up from 120.77 MT in 2011-12.

Silver line

During the period under review, South Eastern Railway (SER), the third-largest freight-loading zonal railway, presented a slightly different picture.

Despite being a major iron ore loading railway and virtual disappearance of iron ore traffic for export, SER’s first half traffic throughput at 61.24 MT showed a significant improvement over 56.48 MT targeted for the period. The traffic throughput in the first half of 2011-12 was 59.84 MT.

The target for this year was lowered due to SER’s not-so-satisfactory performance in 2011-12 and critical situation on the iron ore front. The growth so far this year was achieved due to improved loading of iron ore for domestic consumers and improvement in the loading of coal, finished steel and some other items. SER is hopeful of achieving the target of 118.35 MT by March next year, marginally higher than last year’s 117.01 MT.


Published on October 14, 2012
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