The lack of freight activity has led to a total loss of Rs 7,000 crore so far.
New Delhi: With earnings from freight at an all time low, the Indian Railways has decided to let go of its annual target of commissioning of tracks as track laying slows down the speed of trains, thus affects the movement of freight.
The lack of freight activity has led to a total loss of Rs 7,000 crore so far. Orders have been issued to all 17 zonal railway sections by the chairman of railway board A. K. Mittal that his approval was necessary for all major tracks related works that demand speed restrictions on important railway corridors.
Earlier, such approval was granted by zonal railways themselves. The move is aimed at preventing further dent in earnings.
A speed restriction of 15 km per hour are put in a section when track-related works like laying of new rail, maintenance or doubling and tripling takes places, and they delay freight movement.
As against the required target of 2,800 km, nearly 2,000 km of tracks were laid in 2016-17. This target has been further increased to 3500 km for the financial year 2017-18, but looks unlikely to be achieved.
According to a senior Railway Ministry official, the 2,800 km railway track commissioning target for 2016-17 was ambitious. “We may not achieve it following the new orders that the CRB approval is must for all major no-interlocking works — speed restrictions put around stations during track related works”.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had expressed concern over the state of railway finances this fiscal when core freight loading of coal and cement are down by 50 per cent. Besides, railways has an added burden of bearing the cost of 7th Pay Commission.
Passenger fares are already cross-subsidised by freight and railways; it incurred a loss of over Rs 35,000 crore on account of subsides and concessions given under various categories.