Despite the months-long lockdown that started around this time last year, and the pandemic, Indian Railways has managed to carry more goods than it did during the same period the previous year.
Terming it a “huge achievement”, the Railways Ministry said that as on March 12, its freight loading figures for the year crossed those on the same day last year.
At 1,145.68 million tonnes, the total goods carried this fiscal so far is .07 million tonnes more. But sources said that it indicated that the transporter is likely to end this fiscal, end of this month, beating last fiscal year’s total freight loading number of 1,209 million tonnes.
“It is a huge achievement given the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted rail movement,” Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma told reporters. “This is despite the coronavirus crisis which had pushed us into a deficit of 70 MT from April to July.”
There has been a massive slide in the volume of coal it could carry this year. At 502 million tonnes, it is around 50 million tonnes less than last fiscal. Even petroleum products carried, at 40.37 million tonnes, was around a couple of million tonnes less. Sharma said it was due to lack of demand thanks to low industrial activity during the lockdown.
“We made good by carrying more items and by expanding our freight basket,” he said.
Data shared by the ministry show that Railways started turning the tides in July and by August it began loading more freight than the corresponding period the previous year. However, there was a still the shortfall on its books. On Friday, it could finally erase that.
“We diversified our freight basket in a big way; reached out to customers and brought in new items like industrial salt, onion, automobile, cotton and others,” said Sushant Mishra, Additional Member, Traffic Transportation.
Among the new items, salt, sugar, onion, sand, automobile are products Railways has weaned away from the road sector.
Data show that on a day-to-day basis, on March 11, the freight loading of Indian Railways was 4.07 million tonnes, which is 34 per cent higher than last year’s loading for the same date (3.03 million tonnes).
The average speed of freight trains in the month of March 2021 till now was 45.49 kmph which is almost double compared to last year for the same period (23.29 kmph).