The Quality of Freight Service must Improve

Date Posted: 2011-10-19


Indian Railways has done well to raise freight rates by 15% across the board. The mid-course correction will boost revenues and improve the health of the country's most vital, but failing component of transport infrastructure. However, merely raising rates will not suffice.

The quality of service must improve to make the IR's freight business efficient. The Railways should ensure that all goods move with speed, safety and predictability - whether it is hauling imported coal to power plants or finished goods from factories to ports. The Railways' conventional argument that the volume approach allows it to keep tariffs low and yet remain profitable does not cut ice any more.

Keeping freight rates untouched has not fetched the IR a larger share in cargo haulage. Its earnings from goods traffic for the six months up to September is less than half the targeted earnings of 68,620 crore for 2011-12. The Railways has to earn more, invest and expand at a rapid rate to become a viable commercial enterprise, playing a vital role in globalising India's transport infrastructure.


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