Indian Railways closes the year with higher freight loading than the last

Steps taken to increase freight maybe institutionalized in coming year: Rail Ministry


Indian Railways | Freight

Twesh Mishra  | 
New Delhi 

Beating the pandemic blues, Indian Railways has closed the financial year 2020-2021 with higher freight loading than the last. According to data shared by the Rail Ministry, cumulative freight loading for the financial year 2020-2021 stood at 1,224.45 million tonne (mt), up from 1,205.04 mt in the fiscal 2019-2020.

The railways also reported higher freight revenue during this period overcoming the COVID-19 lock downs and other challenges to end the year with record closings. Freight revenue as on fiscal 2021 end stood at Rs 1,16,634.9 crore, up from 1,13,477.9 crore in the same period of the previous fiscal.

The Indian Railways has been reporting a strong recovery in freight earnings since August 2020 with speedier trains allowing better turnaround times. There have also been the introduction of new commodities in the basket and dedicated freight corridors to augment more goods transport.

The increase in revenue and loading has magnified towards the close of the financial year. According to Rail Ministry data, freight loading stood at 122.19 mt in March 2021, 24 per cent up from 98.76 mt in March 2020. This translates to a direct increase in revenue that also rose 24 per cent March 2021 from Rs 9,806.09 crore in March 2020 to Rs 12,137.22 crore.

According to a Rail Ministry presentation shared earlier in March 2021, there was an increase in loading of Iron and steel, cement, food grain, fertiliser, container and other goods during the year. The highest growth in non traditional commodities has been led by chemical salt, sand, cotton, onion and automobiles. Coal is the laggard with significantly lower loading that last year.

“On day to day basis, as on March 31, 2021 (morning), the freight loading of Indian Railways was 3.24 mt, which is 35 per cent higher compare to last year’s loading for the same date (2.4 mt). On this date, Indian Railways earned Rs 364.92 crore which is also 53 per cent higher compared to last year’s earnings for the same date (Rs 239.14 crores),” a Rail Ministry statement said.

“The offering of concessions and discounts are among the factors attributed to this achievement. It may be noted that improvements in freight movements will be institutionalised and incorporated in the upcoming zero based time table,” the statement added.

Railway had offered tariff and non-tariff incentives that have driven this increase in loading. These include long lead discounts on coal, iron-ore, finished steel, limestone and clinker. There were also short lead discounts on all commodities save coal and iron ore.

Railways also offered 5 per cent off on loaded and 25 per cent on empty containers. Additionally, there was a 40 per cent discount on fly ash in railway wagons. The withdrawal of busy season surcharge of 15 per cent is also said to have helped improve freight loading.

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