Updated: May 26, 2021 7:16:02 am
AMIDST the second wave of the pandemic, freight movement across India has surpassed pre-Covid levels, as per numbers clocked by the Railways.
The volume transported by the Railways is 10% above the figures for 2019-20 (pre-pandemic). Till Monday, the national transporter had carried 200 million tonnes (MT) of freight this fiscal year. In the same period in 2019-20, it had carried 181 MT. Last year, this figure was around 124 MT, with the nationwide lockdown hitting movement. Overall freight earnings have touched Rs 2,000 crore, slightly more than for the same period in 2019-20, and over 50% more than last year.
Officials attribute this to various factors, including competitive business development efforts. Localised lockdowns, instead of a nationwide one, for one, have meant increased speed of goods trains, with tracks being more or less empty. The speeds are currently double the normal, at around 46 kmph. This has in turn cut the turnaround time for wagons compared to last year by 33%, officials said. The unpredictability of the road sector at this time also means more are turning to the Railways.
Officials said Business Development Units formed in each zone as well as at the ministry had helped the freight business too. “Now instead of the Railways waiting for customers to come, officials reach out to the industry to seek business, like a competitive player in the market. And we offer discounts and surcharge waivers,” said a senior official.
Besides, under localised lockdowns, business and industrial activities continue, which require movement of coal, iron ore, cement etc — the mainstay of Railways freight basket.
By Monday, the volume of coal carried was 92 MT, 57% more than last year and on a par with the year before that. Even port traffic has picked up, with an average of 250 rakes servicing the ports every day.
Similarly, the Railways has carried 26 MT of iron ore, 6 MT more than the year before last. The volume of cement transported, a little of 10 MT, is also equal to that in 2019-20.
While last year the Railways had transported large quantities of foodgrains to states, this year this amount has fallen — from nearly 10 MT to around 7.5 MT.
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