Identifying freight business as the "foundation of Railways' turnaround", Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on Friday kept the rates unchanged while proposing a major simplification in tariff structure and an investment of Rs 22,000 crore (Rs 220 billion) for dedicated freight corridors to push up revenue from this segment to over Rs 40,320 crore (Rs 403.2 billion) in 2006-07.
Buoyed by the impressive performance, he said the Railways was estimated to earn a record revenue this fiscal at Rs 36,490 crore (Rs 364.9 billion) as against the targeted Rs 33,480 crore (Rs 334.8 billion).
"We are fast moving towards establishing a new record of loading 668 million tonnes, with a historic growth of 11 per cent. This is the second consecutive year when we have increased our market share with a growth rate higher than the growth rate of the economy," he said while presenting the Railway Budget for 2006-07 in Parliament.
This record-breaking performance was possible due to reduction in wagon turnaround time and additional loading, he said, adding this enable an increase of 100 million tonnes in loading capacity and generation Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) in revenues.
The minister pushed up the freight target for the next fiscal at 726 million tones and freight output at 479 billion tonnes kilometers from 668 MT and 396 btkms this year.
Unveiling a slew of measures to pull away cargo transport business from road to rail network, Lalu said there will be no increase in freight rates for 2006-07 while the process of rationalisation of freight structure would be continued.The number of commodity groups would be reduced from 80 to 28. This includes 23 groups of commodities under General Tariff Lines and five divisions under Low Rates Tariff Lines.