Railways hopeful of achieving earning target

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New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) Cash-strapped railways todaysaid it was optimistic about achieving its earning target forthe current fiscal in view of appreciable freight loadings infertiliser, foodgrains and parcels besides increased earningsfrom advertising.

"We are confident of achieving earnings targets of Rs94,765 crores due to the positive growth in parcel loadingsand in fertiliser and foodgrains among others," Railway BoardChairman Vivek Sahai told PTI.

Railway finances have come under strain due to theimplementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report.

The ban on illegal mining activities in Orissa andKarnataka has also affected railways'' revenue earnings fromfreight. Railways lost more than 13 million tonnes in iron oreor Rs 2,500 crores due to fall in loading in these states.

The Naxal menace also hampered its revenue earningswith Rs 800 crore being lost on account of shortfall in coalloadings.

Sahai said implementation of the Sixth Commissionreport had a major effect on railways leading to its currentfinancial state when operating ratio is 95.3 per cent.

Operating ratio is the sum spent to earn Rs 100.

"The increasing operating ratio is a temporaryphenomenon and would come down like it had happened after theimplementation of the Fifth Pay Commission," he said.

After the Fifth Pay Commission was implemented, theoperating ratio had also gone up to 90.5 per cent but camedown to about 75.9 per cent in 2007-08.

Sahai said in 2008-09 railways had to pay 40 per centof the arrears to its employees while implementing pay panelrecommendations which pushed the operating ratio up to 90.5per cent.

In 2009-10, the operating ratio went up to 95.3 percent as 60 per cent of the arrears were paid.

Railways with 14 lakh employees and 12 lakh pensionershad to dole out Rs 55,000 crores for implementing the paycommission report, including Rs 16,400 crores on account ofpension liabilities from its internal resources. .

Railways salary and pension liability after the Sixth Pay Commission is Rs 15,000 crore per annum. It also faces theadditional burden of shelling out Rs 1,500 crores for itsemployees under modified assured career progression scheme.

The Gujjar agitation coupled with dense fog also addedto the woes of Railways.

"The blockade of rail track due to the Gujjaragitation affected train operations and the fog situation alsocompounded the problem. We lost about Rs 180 crores due tothis," said Sahai.

Referring to the escalation in diesel price, Sahaisaid the extra burden of Rs 1000 crores due to the hike indiesel prices also impacted the Railways financially.

"Though these factors were beyond railway control,suitable steps are being taken to improve the earnings andcontrol the expenditures", he said.

Sahai exuded confidence that earning targets for thecurrent fiscal would be achieved as the PSU is a robustorganisation and will meet the challenge posed by thepayments of huge arrears.

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