New Delhi, Feb 25: The Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu proposed three solution sets for reversing the trend of declining modal share of freight trains – expanding the freight basket of Indian Railways, rationalising the tariff structure and building terminal capacity.
The freight basket of Indian Railways is dominated by 10 bulk commodities which enjoy a share of around 88%. Indian Railways should look beyond these to expand revenue base. A full-fledged market study is being undertaken and detailed supply and demand scenarios, service level and infrastructure requirements will be assessed so that an action plan to re-capture that traffic through either containerization or new delivery models e.g., Roll-on Roll-off, will be developed and implemented.
Network capacity limitations do not allow for running of time-tabled freight trains but from this year a time-tabled freight container, parcel and special commodity trains will be started on a pilot basis.
He also said that the Container sector would be opened to all traffic barring coal and specified mineral ores and part-loads would be permitted during the non-peak season. All existing terminals/sheds would be granted access to container traffic, where considered feasible.
He said that the current tariff structure of Indian Railways has led to out-pricing of freight services. A review of tariff policy will be undertaken to evolve a competitive rate structure vis a vis other modes, permit multi-point loading/unloading and apply differentiated tariffs to increase utilization of alternate routes. The possibility of signing long term tariff contracts with our key freight customers using pre-determined price escalation principles will be explored which would provide predictability of revenues to Indian Railways and of costs to customers.