Loadings fall: Railway blames it on slowdown; freight target likely to be missed
New Delhi, Jul 5: With cement and iron ore sector not doing well and states like UP, Bihar and West Bengal not lifting foodgrains from FCI godowns, the loading of these commodities have fallen, making it difficult for the Railway to meet the freight target of 1,186 million tonnes this fiscal.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced in the Budget that freight traffic would grow from 1,101 MT in 2014-15 to 1,186 MT in 2015-16, an increase of 85 MT.
It was expected that the additional tonnage of 85 MT would come from increased loading of coal, iron ore, cement and foodgrains.
Though the freight transportation in April-May was 182.72 MT, compared to 180.52 MT last year for the same period, there was a fall in loading in the case of cement (-9 per cent), foodgrains (-24.2 per cent) and iron ore (-4.2 per cent).
Freight loading by the Railway grew a dismal 1.22 per cent in April-May this year, far from 7.7 per cent growth projected for the entire fiscal. The freight budget target showed negative in April this year, the first month of the current fiscal.
The target for April 2015 was 99.33 MT, while the public sector behemoth carried only 88.53 MT. However, the Railway blames it on the general slowdown in the economy.
"The incremental freight target was calculated in anticipation of a healthier growth of economy but it did not happen so as we are witnessing a slowdown," said a senior Railway Ministry official.
There is a severe setback on the loading of foodgrains as states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have stopped lifting from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for "political" reasons.
Railways carried 7.03 MT of foodgrains in April this year as against 9.26 MT the last year, a decrease of 2.23 MT. Railway's loss on account reduced off-take of foodgrains is pegged around Rs 80 crore a month.
Iron ore loading was down from 19.95 MT to 19.11 MT and cement transportation from 20.77 MT to 18.91 MT.
The official said with cement and iron ore sectors not doing well, loading of these commodities have also fallen. However, coal loadings have maintained a growth, rising from 87.2 MT to 91.95 MT for the said period.
Freight rates were hiked upto 10 per cent in the budget and the Railway set the target of earnings from transport of cargo at Rs 1,21,423 crore for the current financial year.