Indian Railways (IR) has reported having carried out its highest ever freight loading operation of of 794 million tonnes, exceeding the initial budgeted target of 785 MT and the revised estimate target of 790 MT. The growth over the previous year stands at 9 per cent.
Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi today, K C Jena, chairman, railway board, said Indian Railways has steadily been improving its performance over the last four years, with the key driver being the growth in freight loading.
He said the highest ever incremental loading during a financial year had also been achieved at 65.59 MT, beating the previous record of 64.61 MT achieved in 2005-06, while explaining the major sectors that contributed to to IR's growth.
Between 2003-04 and 2007-08, the average yearly growth in freight loading has been around 10.56 per cent, despite IR operating in a sector where capacity additions have long gestation period. The spectacular freight performance of IR will firmly position it as an engine of economic growth in the country.
Coal movement, which still remained single largest commodity moved by the railways constituting 42.4 per cent of the total freight moved by IR, grew by 7.47 per cent. Coal loading for power houses recorded the highest ever despatches.
Inspite of better plant load factor (PLF) of power houses and augmentation of capacity in the power sector resulting in higher consumption levels, increased freight loading ensured adequate availability of coal in the power houses.
Loading of iron ore by all sectors including exports have shown a growth of approximately 19 per cent in the year 2007-08 and was constrained by the adverse law and order situation on the Kottavalasa-Kirandul section on the East Coast Railway.
Steel loading from major steel plants recorded a major growth of approximately 8.8 per cent, with the loading of finished steel and sponge iron from smaller plants constituting 19 per cent of the total steel loading .
With the growth in the pipeline GAIL's capacity , it was expected that the movement of petroleum oil and lubricant would decline. Instead IR expects to achieve the highest ever POL loading in 2007-08. In fact, during the last four years POL loading has been growing at 3.34 per cent per annum.
According to chairman Jena the strategy on the freight front in 2007-08 focussed on improvement in train operations, and rationalisation of maintenance practices. HE said there was continued emphasis on improvement in wagon turnaround and optimisation of asset utilisation by ensuring improved availability of locomotives, intensive monitoring of freight terminals, mopping up of piecemeal stock into rakes and running empty high speed freight stock at 100 kmph. In fact, empty BOXN rakes of coal originating from Punjab could reach coal loading areas near Dhanbad in 24 hrs!
IR targets 850 mt in 2008-09
IR have now set a target of loading 850 MT in 2008-09 and an ambitious target of 1100 MT of revenue earning freight traffic by the terminal year of the 11th Plan. The thrust henceforth will be to consolidate the position gained so far by equipping the system for higher growth.
Capacity augmentation is now a critical requirement of IR and investments on the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors will commence shortly. He said a blueprint had been prepared for the high density network (HDN) of 20,000km which carried 75 per cent of the total traffic.
HDN routes which serve core infrastructure industries like coal, steel, iron-ore, cement, containers will be strengthened over the next five years at a cost of Rs75,000 crore, Jena said. Progressive extension of route kilometres capable of carrying wagons of higher capacity is being made. Upgradation of select iron ore and bulk cargo routes to run wagons with 25 Tonnes axle load is also currently underway, he said.
20,000 wagons being acquired in 2008-09
A key concern of the customers regarding the inability of IR to meet peak time demand (January to March) due to shortage of wagons is being addressed in the coming years, with IR preparing to procure a record 20,000 wagons during 2008-09.Besides this, rolling stock with higher capacity is being inducted to improve throughput. Induction of 250 diesel locomotives, and 220 electric locomotives has been planned for the next year. The process for the procurement of high horse power locomotives (diesel and electric) through joint ventures have also been initiated.
IR intends to liberalise traditional empty flow direction scheme and offer attractive lean season discounts to capture more traffic during the lean season. To encourage private investment in procurement of wagons and development of freight terminals, introduction of schemes for liberalised wagon investments, wagon leasing and terminal developments would soon be introduced, he said. IR also plans to develop multi-logistics parks to cater to freight traffic requirements.
The last four years have seen a rise in Railways' share in transportation of steel, cement, coal etc. To maintain this progress, IR have decided to set up a strategic business unit in Railway Board for coal ,cement, steel and container traffic to facilitate timely settlement of all problems of our clients through a single window system. Necessary efforts are afoot to enhance co-ordination with various important sectors of the industry and improve customer satisfaction.