Major reforms are underway in the freight sector with reduction of cargo charges announced in the rail budget for the first time, and it will benefit the railways in a big way during the coming days, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu informed today.
"In our country, due to non-running of time-tabled freight trains, most of the cargo is not coming to railways... When will the goods train reach no one knows. "But to change this scenario we have already started a programme and two pairs of time-tabled container trains - 'Cargo Express' - have already commenced and I am happy to share that they reached their destinations ahead of their scheduled time," Prabhu said after flagging off a time-tabled container (weekly) train between Nagalapalli and Tuglakabad at Secunderabad railway station here.
He said that though the railways gets two-third of its income from goods transportation, "we did not focus on this and because of ignoring it, the railways' share in cargo has been on a decline and in coming days it will be a matter of concern how will railways support itself."
"Hence, for the first time in the history of rail budget, from this year we have initiated to bring down the cargo charges. The reforms going on in freight sector in the country are mind-boggling, and the reforms will benefit railways in the coming days," Prabhu said.
The railways in the country is the biggest user of energy, he said, pointing out that energy utilisation should be made in a proper way, and to bring down costs (on electricity) several measures also need to be undertaken.
"Bringing down costs (reduce expenditure of railways on energy) is essential for survival of the railways...It's a matter of existential need and we have formulated big policies on energy-saving," the minister said.
In the last two years, the Narendra Modi-led government has made rail budget with focus on providing passenger amenities and the budget has everything for the common man, he said.
"Big investments to improve passenger amenities like lifts, elevators, e-ticketing, catering on demand, mechanised laundry, new Deen Dayal coach, have been made," he said.
Prabhu also flagged off 11307 Gulbarga-Hyderabad daily intercity Express and 11083 Mumbai LTT-Kazipet weekly Tadoba Express via video remote link during the event. He said the "two long pending demands (to start passenger trains) have now been fulfilled."