New Delhi, Oct 24 : Union Minister of Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav today congratulated the 14 lakh railway employees for earning cash surplus of Rs. 25,000 crore and carrying the highest ever loading of 795 million tones during the year 2007-08.
Addressing a meeting of the General Managers of all Zonal Railways and Production Units here, he said that Indian Railways has now set the target of 875 million tones of freight loading for the current financial year.
He said that during the first six months of this fiscal, Indian Railways have carried 401.9 million tones with an increase of 19.7 per cent in freight earnings. However, during the first 20 days of the October 2008, there was a slump in the freight loading growth rate especially in iron ore, cement and finished steel loading.
"This may be due to the impact of the current economic crisis being experienced by various countries in the world," he added.
The Minister expressed the hope that the current slow down in freight growth rate would be temporary and there will be improvement in freight loading in the remaining months of this financial year.
He further said that all General Managers should take various measures to increase freight loading like setting up of new goods' sheds, introduction of 24 hour loading-unloading facility on all the good' sheds and also reduction in wagon turnaround time to four days.
The Minister said that there is a need for examining all aspects regarding running of goods trains with 25 ton-axle loads on 5000 kilometres route and goods trains with 23 ton-axle load on the remaining routes, as announced in the budget.
The Minister called upon the General Managers to expedite the works of new lines. Gauge conversion, doubling and electrification.
He said that though there is a decline in the number of accidents during 2008-09 compared to 2007-08, it is found that 39 per cent accidents are occurred due to human error.
"To avert accidents, it is necessary to provide adequate training and counseling to drivers and employees of safety category," he added.
The Minister said that during the first half of this fiscal, there is an increase of 12.9 per cent in passenger earnings. He has emphasized the need for increasing capacity in passenger trains by adding 1200 additional coaches in popular trains.
He also called upon the General Managers to take up the work on war footing for the implementation of all the important announcements made by him during budget speech.
These include provision of additional middle berth in sleeper class and three AC coaches, construction of foot-over bridges on more stations, increasing of advertisement earning from Rs. 180 crore to Rs. 360 crore during 2008-09 by allowing advertisements on all popular trains, availability of modern passenger amenities at 320 stations, installation of 2500 unreserved ticketing system and automatic ticket vending machines at each station and provision of cushioned seats in General 2nd Class coaches.