GUWAHATI, July 31: Indian Railway 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, it has now become clear that Indian Railway has to focus on freight revenue to meet the shortfall.
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 service.
Indian 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. 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. In anticipation of more freight business, improvement of Goods Shed Facilities has started in mission mode. 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.
NF Railway 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. Indian Railway in general and NF Railway in particular is hopeful of significantly increasing its freight traffic to meet the revenue shortfall arising out of suspension of passenger services.
For the benefit of the industry, Railway authorities are 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.