ER announces new projects for Vision 2020

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Kolkata, Apr 08 (UNI) To boost the annual revenue for Eastern Railway and Merchants in the region, E R General Manager N K Goel today announced a target of 49 million tonnes of freight traffic in the fiscal year 2008-09, as against 44.5 million tonnes of last fiscal.

Addressing an interactive session on "Eastern Railway: Vision 2020" at the Merchants's Chamber of Commerce here, Mr Goel said the Railway Ministry has mentioned a target of 1100 million tonnes of freight traffic and 840 crore passenger traffic by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan(2011-2012).

Elaborating on the Vision 2020, he said the focus was now on several projects, including laying of new lines of about 550 kms, gauge conversion of about 67 kms, electrification of about 240 kms, with the department expecting to spend at least Rs 507 crores in the next few years for infrastructure development.

'' Apart from this, 14 surveys for new lines(575 kms), doubling of lines(16kms), gauge conversion (74 kms) have also been undertaken and reports have already been submitted to the Railway Board. We are expecting their sanction very soon,'' he added.

''In the fiscal 2006 - 07, the freight figure was 48.3 million tonnes, which due to problems in the ECL was reduced to 44.5 million tonnes. But, we are targeting at least 49 million tonnes in the next fiscal,'' Mr Goel stated, while speaking on freight traffic in the region.

Speaking on the earnings of the Eastern Railway in the just ended fiscal, Mr Goel said the approximate revenue from passenger traffic has increased from Rs 999.89 crores in 2006-07 to Rs 1170 crores in 2007-08, bringing an incremental earning up to Rs 170.11 crores, a 17.01 per cent over the previous fiscal.

''The originating freight earnings has also increased from Rs 1804.73 crores in 2006-07 to Rs 2233.03 crores in 2007-08, which is Rs 428.3 crores or 23.73 per cent more than the previous fiscal,'' he added.

Responding to a question on possible increase in capacity of Eastern Railways, Mr Goel said with 8.7 per cent growth in the country's GDP, the transport elasticity should be at least 1.5 per cent. However, India has not been able to reach its target with the market share of freight transportation being at only 40 per cent.

Discussing on the matter, he said merchants are losing out money due to the slow speed of the goods trains and low freight capacity.

Hence, by reducing weight of the wagons, increasing capacity of wagons from 21.9 tonnes to 30 tonnes, and increasing diamenter of wheels.

''If we can increase the speed of the goods trains from 20 kmph to 60 kmph, then the Merchants can make good business in the area,'' he added.

Besides, Mr Goel also assured that Maitree Express, the Indo-Bangladesh train service, aimed at improving ties between the two nations, will commence from April 14 and run on a weekly basis.

Train services between West Bengal and neighbouring country had been discontinued in 1965 during the first India-Pakistan war.

UNI LL KK SS1936

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