With the economic slowdown impacting its freight business, Indian Railways has decided to defer its busy season surcharge of 15 per cent on freight and increased the number of rakes to be provided for the auto sector, in an attempt to increase freight loading.
On Thursday, the Railways announced it was suspending its busy season surcharge of 15 per cent — which is levied between October 1 and June 30 — for the current season.
“Considering the current economic scenario, to give a boost to the industry and freight, the Railways has taken measures to facilitate industry, especially in reducing rail transport cost,” Railway Board Member (Traffic) P S Mishra told reporters.
An additional waiver of 5 per cent will be provided on loading mini rakes or smaller parcel size.
To give some support to the beleaguered sector, which is looking to reduce costs, the Railways has decided to offer more rakes for the transportation of automobiles.
Earlier, Railways used to provide eight auto rakes, which has now been increased to 26, and the national transporter has plans to provide as many as 50 rakes to the sector to transport their goods by this year end.
“The auto sector requested for it,” Mishra added.
He further said that the Railways has also come out with a scheme for round-trip charging on container traffic under which the haulage charges for 0-100 km slab will be charged for total to and fro movement, instead of charging for 0-50 km slab each way which will come out to be about 35 per cent cheaper per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) for the complete round-trip.
“We have not see any negative impact till now. In the first five months of the current fiscal, we have loaded more freight that last year … but the growth has not been at the leave we had expected.
“In the first five months of the year (April-August), the Railways hauled 500 MT on freight, but a major chunk of growth usually comes in the second half of the year,” Mishra said.
In 2018-19, the Railways transported 1,223 million tonnes (MT) of freight, earning revenues of about 1.25 lakh crore.
Mishra said he expects the transporter to surpass both the volume and revenues numbers this fiscal. The growth in revenues is estimated to be in single digit, he added.