The financials of Indian Railways continue to be in doldrums with earnings of the government-owned carrier of goods and passengers falling short of Rs 668 crore from the target of Rs 30,278 crore it had set for itself in the quarter ended June 30.
According to latest government data, the actual earnings in the first quarter of the current fiscal stood at Rs 29,610. This is much better when compared to the earnings in the year ago period. In April-June 2011, railways had earned Rs 24,199 crore.
Of the Rs 29,610-crore, over two-thirds or Rs 21,021 crore has come from freight. It had a target of mopping up Rs 21,341 crore from transporting goods in the first quarter.
Faced with an acute financial crunch, Railways had in June hiked the parcel and luggage tariff rates by about 20-25% on all goods and baggage.
This followed a 20% hike in freight tariff rates just before the Rail Budget in March, a move that was widely criticised across political spectrum. The twin moves are seen as desperate attempts by the railway management to generate funds to wriggle the state-run transporter out of fiscal mess without annoying its political masters.
The measures to raise funds came after Railways Minister Mukul Roy, under pressure from Trinamool Party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had rolled back the proposal for passenger fare hike in the Rail Budget 2012-13.
Railways aim to generate around Rs 350-400 crore as additional revenue in the current fiscal through the rationalisation of tariff that has come after six years. In 2011-12, it had earned Rs 1,600 crore from parcel and luggage traffic. According to projections by economic think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, Railways’ freight traffic is likely to witness a 5.2% growth this fiscal on higher demand from coal and iron ore meant for domestic steel plants.
While the target from passenger fares was Rs 7,601 crore till June 30, the railways could manage only Rs 7,295 crore. In the year ago period, it had mopped up Rs 6,631 crore through passenger fares.
Optimisation of operational efficiency and earnings through progressive increases in axle loads as well as carrying capacity of wagons are some of the measures that the Indian railways are taking to boost freight revenues.