‘Poor infrastructure behind falling railway freight traffic’

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New Delhi, Jan (IANS) Lack of development in basic infrastructure and the freight sector was the reason behind falling railway freight traffic, officials said on Monday.

“Railways is the most economical mode of transportation. Even then, railway traffic is going down compared to other modes of transport. The reason behind that is that railways has not spent enough for developing basic infrastructure for the freight sector,” Railway Board chairman A.K. Mital said at a seminar titled “Evolving Strategic Partnership for Select Freight Segments”.

He said railways brought various policies and initiatives to attract investors for developing the freight sector and basic infrastructure and improved freight terminals as 90 percent of the loading was done from there.

The seminar was not only aimed at attracting investments for terminals but also attracting freight in the form of steel, cement and automobiles.

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Mohammed Jamshed, Member Traffic in the Railway Board, said the seminar will throw open a new dimension in railways freight business.

“Since its inception, the Indian Railways had long term business relations with industry and private enterprises,” said Jamshed.

He said terminals owned by private industry contributed nearly 75 percent of the 1,100 million tonnes of freight loaded in the railways.

Indian Railways inviting private investment in wagons such as Wagon Leasing Scheme (WLS) and Liberalised Wagon Investment Scheme (LWIS) have witnessed considerable interest of its partners, he said.

Emphasising that Indian Railways opened strategic partnerships with the private sector in rolling stock as well, he said 195 rakes have been procured at an investment of approximately Rs.3,500 crore.

“A remarkable paradigm shift has taken place recently wherein Coal India Limited has signed an MoU with Indian Railways for procurement of wagons for Rs.500 crore,” Jamshed said.

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According to him, the automobile, cement and steel industries will be key for Indian Railways freight business.

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