In order to step up its revenue, Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways has increased the freight rates by up to 19%.
In order to step up its revenue, Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways has increased the freight rates by up to 19%. Indian Railways’ freight revenue in the first quarter of the current financial year declined by 10.3% to Rs 25,503 crore compared to the year-ago period. This was on account of flat growth in freight loading. For the entire of FY17, Indian Railways has set a very modest growth target at 5.4%. This factors in sops designed to attract fresh customers. In Q1 last year, the growth in freight was 15% and for the whole of FY16, 7.7%.
The national behemoths’ freight loading witnessed a modest (0.46%) decline in Q1, reflecting the continued sluggishness in investment in the economy and industrial production, as opposed to the budgeted growth of 4.51% for FY17, as tonnage of key commodities like coal, cement, foodgrains and fertilisers declined. As against the loading target of the April-June period, the achievement was lower by 7.3%.
In fact, rail freight growth stayed negative in June, though better than the record lows in April, coming at -5% year-on-year. Tonnage, however, grew an annual 3% after seven months of declines, giving some credence to Indian Railways’ claim that a turnaround is round the corner. The transporter, which has been announcing a slew of new freight rationalising schemes, saw freight loading for pig iron and finished steel, iron ore and container traffic grew by 4%, 12% and 0.34%, respectively in Q1.