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Slowdown hurts freight growth

The economic slowdown that roiled the world economy through the last two years did not spare Indian Railways either, as freight movement across the country reduced, reports Mahua Venkatesh.

business Updated: Jun 22, 2012 11:16 IST
Mahua Venkatesh

The economic slowdown that roiled the world economy through the last two years did not spare Indian Railways either, as freight movement across the country reduced.

After growing at close to 10 per cent for three successive years since 2005-06, freight traffic growth slipped to 5 per cent in 2008-09.

The railway ministry acknowledged the impact of the slowdown. “There was a dip in the growth curve in 2008-09 caused by the economic slowdown. When the target of 850 million tonnes could not be met... growth was only 4.97 per cent against the 5-year compounded annual growth rate of 8.38 per cent,” said a white paper presented by the ministry two months ago.

Freight earnings are the backbone of Indian Railways’ revenues, accounting for almost two-thirds of the total earnings of about Rs 80,000 crore.

After growing at 14.1 per cent on a compounded annual basis between 2004 and 2009, freight earnings at Rs 47,763 crore have grown 8.5 per cent from April 2009 to January 2010. Railway minister Mamata Banerjee has set a freight loading target of 944 million tonnes for 2010-11.