COVID-19 Outbreak: Railways to incur Rs 35,000 to 40,000 crore loss from passenger train services this fiscal


New Delhi: The railways are staring at a Rs 35,000-40,000 crore reduction in earnings from the passenger segment this fiscal due to the coronavirus pandemic and are trying to augment freight revenue to make up for the loss, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said on Tuesday.

The railways have inched ahead of 2019’s freight loading by managing to load 3.13 MT of goods on 27 July as compared to 3.12 MT on the same date last year, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the national transporter said.

However, the cumulative overall loading of freight trains remains 18.18 percent less than last year until now.

“The passenger segment is not doing well, everybody knows. We are running just 230 trains and they are hardly full. We do not know how the coronavirus pandemic will unfold. We are expecting only 10-15 percent earnings from the passenger segment and that means we will lose around Rs 35-40,000 crore. We are trying to make up for that through freight revenue,” Yadav said.

The railways have set a target of achieving 50 percent more freight loading in the current fiscal as compared to 2019-2020, he said.

He also said that since last year, a number of concessions and discounts are being given by the Indian Railways to make its freight services more attractive for customers.

On 27 July, a total of 1,039 rakes were loaded with freight which includes 76 rakes of foodgrain, 67 rakes of fertiliser, 49 rakes of steel, 113 rakes of cement, 113 rakes of iron ore and 363 rakes of coal, the railways said.

The average speed of freight trains on 27 July was 46.16 kmph which is more than double as compared to last year’s 22.52 kmph for the same date, it said.

In July, the average speed of freight trains was 45.03 kmph which is around double compared to last year’s 23.22 kmph for the same month, the national transporter said.

When it comes to the average speed of freight trains, it is 54.23 kmph for the West Central Railway, 51 kmph for the Northeast Frontier Railway, and 50.24 kmph for the East Central Railway.

In the East Coast Railway, the average speed of freight trains is 41.78 kmph, in South East Central Railway it is 42.83 kmph, in South Eastern Railway it is 43.24 kmph and in Western Railway it is 44.4 kmph.

“These improvements in freight movements will be institutionalised and incorporated in the upcoming zero-based time table,” Yadav said in an online press conference.

“These steps will lead to significantly higher freight traffic and earnings for the railways and cost-competitive logistics for the entire country,” he said.

The railways have achieved record loading of foodgrains, 80 percent more than last year, and has introduced timetabled parcel services, the Railway Board chairman said.

“Zero-based time-table will see a dedicated corridor for freight trains and passenger trains. It will bring a paradigm shift in running the freight trains as it would improve the ease of doing business,” he said.

He said that the railways have set up multi-disciplinary business development units (BDU) at the Railway Board and zonal levels. It has also empowered zonal chiefs to attract traffic.

The business development teams (BDT) will advertise and give wide publicity for generating demand, formulate traffic development proposals to draw newer clients from the industry.


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