Food security Bill may boost Rlys freight loading by 15%

Written by Rajat Arora | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 9 2013, 08:47am hrs
Indian Railways expects the National Food Security Bill to drive growth in freight loading next fiscal. It sees foodgrain loading increasing by as much as 15% due to the proposed law.

Upon the passing of the food security Bill, our foodgrain loading is expected go up by around 8-10 million tonne. So, we hope that the second half of this year is going to be good for us, a rail board official told FE. Indian Railways has set a freight loading target of 1,047 mt for this financial year.

The national transporter carries around 47 mt of foodgrains in a year, contributing R6,800 crore to the coffers annually. The food Bill is expected to be passed by Parliament in the second part of the Budget Session. The Bill guarantees providing 5 kg foodgrain per month at a subsidised rate to 67% of the country's population. So, under the proposed law, foodgrains, such as rice,w heat and millet, would be provided to around 82 crore people in both urban and rural areas.

The annual foodgrain requirement for implementing the National Food Security Bill is estimated at 61 million tonne.

The railways is also sprucing up its capacity to carry the increased volumes. We will add more containers to our trains. Our goods trains currently have 40 containers we plan to increase it to 42 containers. New containers are also being procured. The capacity building exercise is on so that there are no hurdles in dthe transportation system, the rail board official added.

The national transporter also expects its petroleum loading, which has been really slow in 2013, to pick up. Petroleum rakes were stable in February. They have shown a slight improvement in March. We have had a series of meetings with oil companies. They say that petroleum will pick up soon. So, we hope to see an improvement there, the official said. Railways transports 40 mt of petroleum and lubricants.

But the biggest increase for Railways is likely to come from a jump in the loading of coal, which constitutes around 42% of its total freight. The national transporter is expecting an increase of 25 mt in coal loading, which will mainly be driven by imported coal. Railways expects to carry 525 mt coal this fiscal.

The last fiscal wasnt all that great for Railways freight loading although it was able to enter the 1-billion-plus club in freight movement, it missed its BE 2012-13 target by a huge margin.

As an aside, freight loading saw a jump in March to 100 million tonne from an monthly average of 80-85 mt in recent months, thanks to a spurt in transportation of cement, steel and imported coal.