Dinesh Trivedi made a valiant attempt to arrest the steady loss in freight traffic share to the trucks.
Railways expects a growth of over 30% freight earnings in the next fiscal to Rs 89,339 crore on higher loading of goods and commodities.
However ambitious this attempt may be, it still falls short of industry expectations with minister's efforts being a classic case of too-little-too-late. Industries claim high freight charges of railways are not in sync with the dismal facilities being provided. This compares with trucks that have been constantly modernising their fleet.
"Freight rates have already been jacked up since March 1, 2012 and the increase was heavy. But what are the facilities that we get for this price? The rakes and wagons are dilapidated and sidings are not proper," RG Bagla, group executive president JK Cement told HT.
In fact over the years, railways have steadily lost out to trucks as a preferred mode of freight transport. At present trucks command 80% shares as against rail with only 20% share of freight traffic. A decade back railways had 35% freight traffic and roadways around 65%.
Aware of the daunting task, Trivedi said, "This model of heavy cross subsidy is not sustainable over a long period. If this continues, then I am afraid railways may lose freight traffic to road."