Logistics

Rlys set for a recast of priorities

Santanu Sanyal Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on March 22, 2012

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With the change at the top, the Railway Ministry is all set for for a shift in focus. There may be a recast of priorities and review of earlier projections about traffic and earnings for 2012-13 and beyond, according to informed sources. 

Under the new dispensation, the possibility of selective upward revisions of fares and freight, but only outside the budget, is not ruled out even if there are some announcements to bolster the pro-poor image. After all, the Railway Board is within its powers to revise rates without the approval of Parliament. 

The rollback of the proposed fare hikes in most classes will entail revenue loss for the Railways, more so because the share of upper class fares, which have been increased, in the total fare earnings is small. This loss has to be made up somehow if the Railways is serious about addressing the ambitious investment and job creation programme, without stepping into the debt trap.

Target set

The Rail Budget for 2012-13 has set the target of revenue-earning freight traffic for the year at 1025 million tonnes (mt) - up from an estimated 970 mt for 2011-12. In other words, the incremental traffic will be 55 mt.

While the Indian Railways is yet to fix the freight traffic for each zonal railway, the bulk of the burden of incremental traffic has to be borne by only four zonal Railways - South East Central (Bilaspur); South Central (Secunderabad); East Coast (Bhubaneswar); and East Central (Hajipur, Patna).  This is because the large chunk of the projected incremental traffic will be in coal and these are coal-handling railways. But then the success of coal loading does not depend only on the railways. Coal production must be in tune with the demand for increased loading; also e road-bridging has to be seamless and law and order in coal mining areas must be under control .

The two other major freight-loading zonal Railways - South Eastern (Kolkata) and South Western (Hubli) - may not be given high freight traffic targets for 2012-13. This is because iron ore accounts for the bulk of the total traffic of these two Railways which suffered badly in the current fiscal due to high export duty on iron ore, slump in international demand and restrictions imposed by producing States such as Karnataka and Odisha on the loading of the mineral.  East Coast Railway is another iron ore loading Railway which also suffered, but the drop in throughput was largely compensated by the rise in imported coal.

santanu@thehindu.co.in

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Published on March 22, 2012
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