In a remarkable turnaround, Indian Railways (IR) overcame all hurdles to register a rise in both its Freight and Passenger business for the financial year 2016-17 just ended. The achievement was possible due to timely policy interventions to correct the dip in transport demands in various identified segments which enabled bring back the traffic to the rails. In the words of the Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, “the organization could overcome the most difficult year for IR by initiating various innovative measures”.
The Freight traffic, which essentially serves the revenue of Indian Railways, recorded the highest ever annual loading of 1107.1 Million Tonnes (MTs) in 2016-17, surpassing the previous best of 1104.2 MTs in 2015-16. Amongst the commodities which contributed to this performance is, Iron ore which registered a loading of 137.2 MTs in the fiscal, while the previous best for this commodity was 136.9 MTs in 2007-08. Steel loading was also the highest ever on Indian Railways at 48.3 MTs in 2016-17, crossing the previous best figure of 42.5 MTs in 2015-16. Raw Material for Steel Plants loaded during the year has also been the highest ever at 21 MTs, up over the previous best mark of 20.3 MTs in 2015-16. “Other Goods” loading has also been the highest ever at 79.9 MTs, more than the figure of 78.05 MTs in 2015-16.
The high points in freight business for IR during the year 2016-17 include the highest ever coal loading from the mines of Coal India Ltd., (CIL) which is excepted to be around 223 rakes per day on an average, bettering the previous years average of 212.8 rakes per day. Incidentally, the last month of the fiscal i.e., March 2017 has shown the highest ever average of 253.6 rakes per day, while the container loading during the month was 4.47 MTs, the best ever for any month. The Hon’ble Minister for Railways, who reviewed the performance for the FY 2016-17, expressed optimism that the substantially improved freight loading in the last 3-4 months of the fiscal, which vitally contributed to tide over the tough times during the year, will continue through the current financial year 2017-18, thereby foreseeing good tidings ahead for Indian Railways.
In Passenger Traffic segment too, the year 2016-17 has been most difficult on account of various factors, necessitating measures to draw foot falls back to the Railways. Running of more number of special trains, attaching extra coaches wherever needed, innovative pricing of premium passenger carrying trains, running of Jan-sadharan and other types of trains to suit sector wise traffic needs etc., helped Indian Railways do better in passenger business during 2016-17 as against the previous fiscal. 8221 Million Passengers travelled on the IR network during 2016-17 as compared to 8151 Million in 2015-16, a rise of around 70 Millions. The total earnings from passenger business is estimated to be around Rs.47,400 crore during the FY 2016-17 which is expected to be more by about Rs.2000 crore over the previous fiscal. Interestingly, this is for the first time in recent years that negative growth has been stopped and increase registered in the numbers and revenue in passenger segment.
Doing away with the earlier habit of announcing new trains in Rail Budget, the Hon’ble Minister for Railways has been implementing a policy to introduce the new train services on a need based parameter. During 2016-17, Indian Railways has seen the introduction of 87 new train services, extension of 51 trains and increase in frequency of 5 trains. Additionally, 293 new stoppages were provided for various trains during the year, 350 trains speeded up and 104 trains converted as super fast services. About 31,438 special train trips were run during the year 2016-17. In tune with the stress on Passenger comfort and convenience in the recent times, Indian Railways has seen intensification of Ticket Checking activity all over the network, netting an amount of Rs.950 crore as earnings during 2016-17, the highest ever performance.