MALIGAON, July 31 (MExN): Indian Railways has geared up to meet the challenging situation thrown up by the present pandemic which resulted in suspension of almost all passenger train services causing a drastic fall in revenue. While various measures to restrict expenditure have been put in place, the national transporter is now focusing on freight revenue to meet the shortfall, railway officials said.
A statement from the Northeast Frontier Railway’s Chief Public Relations Officer on July 31 stated that one of the steps taken to enhance goods traffic and the revenue from carrying goods is to rationalise and bring down freight fare rate for industry to match best international benchmarks. Along with reducing charges for carrying goods, railway is also planning multi-modal integration whereby river transport, road transport and railway transport can be integrated into a single transportation services. This, he said, will result in achieving economic efficiency and environmental benefits.
While the Railway has already increased speed of its goods trains significantly during the last four months, the average speed of goods trains has increased by 66 % in comparison to last year, it said. When compared to July 2019, the speeds of goods trains have almost doubled in the month of July 2020. This effectively means that now perishable goods can be transported long-distance faster.
According to the statement, the increase in speed was possible because, railway had completed more than 200 infrastructure development work removing several bottlenecks in the last four months alone. This included rebuilding or rehabilitation of 82 bridges which were hampering speed and closing of 48 level crossings that were responsible for causing delay in train operations.
In anticipation of more freight business, improvement of Goods Shed Facilities has started in mission mode, it said.
Presently there are 1271 goods sheds, 52 railway-owned sidings, 884 Private Sidings and 67 Private Freight terminals in Indian Railway. To these, 41 Private sidings and 18 Private Freight terminals will be added by March 2021.
The release stated that NFR is also in the process of identifying additional freight terminals to be ready for increased freight traffic. These terminals will be taken up for major improvements like road approaches, lighting, repairs to loading platform surfaces, improvement to customer facilities like waiting room, toilets, water supply etc.
The national transporter is conducting extensive consultation with all stakeholders and dedicated team of officials in the form of Business Development Units (BDU) have been nominated at Head Quarter and Divisional level to ensure Ease of Doing Business for industry, it added.