Railways is mulling to effect a marginal hike in freight rate in the Rail Budget 2013-14 with a view to easing the additional pressure on the national transporter due to diesel price increase.

Barring essential commodities like food grains, pulses, salt, onion, potato, sugar, vanaspati, jaggery and fodder, a marginal revision is under consideration for other goods such as cement, iron ore and coal, sources said.

Railways had hiked the freight rate by about 20 per cent in March 6 last year.

Asked whether another round of freight hike might outprice railways from the market, the sources said “all pros and cons are being taken into consideration and efforts are under way to make our rate competitive”.

Besides tweaking the freight rate, Railways is likely to announce a slew of schemes to attract goods loading business from the road sector.

Despite the freight hike in March 2012, Railways is set to miss its freight earning target of Rs 89,339 crore this fiscal as the total goods earnings for the last 10 months from April to January is Rs 70,067.36 crore.

Even the freight loading target of 1,025 million tonnes (MT) is likely to fall short by 15 MT as railways could transport only 927.90 MT during the last 10 months.

We would be able to carry maximum 1,010 MT goods in the current fiscal, sources said.

The total passenger earnings for the period of 10 months have been Rs 25,924 crore, whereas the target for the current fiscal is Rs 36,000 crore.

Attributing the sluggish growth in both passenger and freight earnings to the general economy slowdown, a railway official said steps were being taken to earn from non-traffic business like commercial utilisation of surplus land, station redevelopment, advertising and other avenues.