Lalu aims to surpass freight revenue target despite slowdown

February 13th, 2009 - 5:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) Railways Minister Lalu Prasad expects to cross the budgeted freight and passenger revenue targets this fiscal despite the economic slowdown.
“We are not only hopeful but confident that the budget targets for passenger and goods earnings set for this fiscal will be surpassed,” Lalu said Friday while presenting the interim railway budget for 2009-10.

“Based on the present trend, we have increased the target for goods earnings for 2008-09 by Rs.15.93 billion. Accordingly, the revised estimates for freight earnings have been kept at Rs.542.93 billion,” he said.

The minister conceded growth in freight loading fell in October and November, and attributed it to the recession in international markets.

“There was a steep reduction in iron ore for export and container traffic. The growth rate of steel traffic also reflected a decrease. This resulted in a decrease in freight loading and freight earnings in the months of October and November.”

He said the situation, however, was improving, with freight earnings increasing to Rs.380.93 billion by the end of December 2008, registering a growth of 14 percent.

The railways ministry had taken a number of steps to increase freight revenue, Lalu said.

These include transporting double-stack containers on the electrified Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, and improving wagon design to increase capacity of goods rakes by 78 percent.

“These trains can now carry a load of 4,100 tonnes compared with the earlier load of 2,300 tonnes. The capacity of the freight trains comprising open wagons with new design will also be 22 percent more than before,” Lalu said.

Construction of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor has commenced from near Dehri-on-Sone Feb 10, he added.

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