Indian Railways posted a healthy 38% growth in revenues to Rs 95,487 crore in the first five months of the current financial year, partly aided by a favourable base but also due to removal of mobility restrictions and pick-up in the economy.
The flexi-fare system (surge pricing) for long-distance express trains amid increased demand enabled the transporter to post revenue from passenger traffic of Rs 25,277 crore in April-August, up 116% over the corresponding period of last year. “Passenger traffic also increased compared to last year in both the segments, reserved as well as unreserved. The growth from the long distance reserved mail express trains has been sharper than the same in passenger & suburban trains,” the railways said in a statement. This reflects a further decrease in cross-subsidisation of the passenger fares, a development that will help increase the railways’ competitiveness vis a a vis truckers in the freight segment.
Over the years, the railways have been losing freight traffic to the roads segment, though for many of the bulk commodities like coal, cement, food grains and steel, the railways continues to be chief mode of transport.
“Goods revenue was Rs 65,505 crore by August this year and has increased by 20% over the corresponding period of last year. This has been achieved through incremental loading of more than 58 million tonne and 18% growth in the NTKMs during the period. Food grains, fertilizers, cement, mineral oil, container traffic and other goods segments have been important contributors in this growth, in addition to the coal transportation,” the railways said.
The other coaching revenue was Rs 2,437 crore in April-August, showing an increase of 50% over the corresponding period of last year. This growth is being fueled by robust growth in the parcel segment.
Thanks to Gati Shakti Plan, the railways is targetting highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 2.45 trillion for 2022-23. The railways operating surplus has been minimal over the last few years. In fact, if it hasn’t under-provided for some of its critical funds like capital and depreciation reserve funds, it would have had to show deficits. For the current financial year, the targetted operating ratio is 96.98%. The transporter has set a target to increase the daily goods traffic from a little over 4 million tonnes to 5 million tonne.
The improvement in railway freight is consistent with some other economic indicators related to transport like the GST e-way bills. E-way bills generated by businesses for the inter-state movement of goods touched an all-time high of 78.21 million in August, up 19% on the year, suggesting an acceleration of shipments as the festival season commenced.