As the economy gradually returns to normalcy following the lockdown period, Indian Railways continues to increase the freight carried on its network. Despite the Coronavirus pandemic still looming large, the railways actually carried more freight in September this year compared to the same month last year, with the load carried by railways exceeding 100 million tonnes.
According to latest data released by the ministry, the freight trains of Indian Railways carried a load of 102.13 MT (million tonne), in September. The figure September 2019 was 88.53 MT, which means the loading saw an increase of 15%. The increase in freight loading was seen across all the commodities, and the volume of foodgrain increased by 101% over last September.
As a result of this increase, the revenue earned by Railways from freight operations also saw an increase to the tune of 14%. The September 2019 revenue was Rs 8,716.29 crore, which went up to Rs 9,896.86 crore. This means the revenue went up by Rs 1,180.57 crore.
The commodities carried by the railways included 42.89 million tonnes of coal, 13.53 million tonnes of iron ore, 6.3 million tonnes of foodgrains, 5.34 million tonnes of fertilizers, 6.05 million tonnes of cement, 3.85 million tonnes of clinker, and 3.52 million tonnes of mineral oil.
Railway Board CEO and chairman V K Yadav said, “Almost all commodities have shown positive growth in September and that gives a good indication of real revival of the Indian economy…It clearly indicates that Indian economy is recovering and the economic activities are really improving.”
“In spite of these challenging times, Indian Railways has taken many initiatives for business development and a lot of initiatives were taken to boost freight loading and the result has come in the month of September,” Yadav added.
He said that the Indian Railways working on the National Rail Plan 2030. He said that according to the assessment based on preliminary studies, by 2024, railways freight loading will be around 2400 MT, and by 2030 it will be around 3200 MT. He assured that this year it will touch 1200 MT.
Apart from the amount of goods carried by the railways, one area where the Indian Railways has seen spectacular improvement is the speed of its freight trains. In just one year, the average speed of goods trains have doubled, reducing the time taken to transport essential commodities to every corner of the country.
The average speed of freight trains was 24.08 kilometre per hour last September, which reached 46.89 kmph in September this year, an increase of 95%. One of the reasons for this is absent of most passenger trains on the network, which has allowed freight trains so run more smoothly. Apart from that, taking the opportunity of absence of trains during the lockdown, the railways also completed several long pending projects to improve the tracks and other infrastructure.