In a positive sign to the commercial vehicle (CV) industry, truck freight rates on trunk routes went up for the second month in a row. After a 6-8 per cent rise in January, truck rentals went up by 3-4 per cent in February on the back of better utilisation of truck fleet.

Amid excise duty cut, discounts and subvention on the EMIs for new truck purchases, utilisation of truck fleet improved on round trips on trunk routes due to increased agri cargo - fruits, vegetables and other food items - and robust output from manufacturing sector, pointed out a statement of IFTRT (Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training).

Rental on Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi round trip on a 9-tonne payload truck stood at Rs 63,000 on March 1 when compared with Rs 61,000 on February 2. Delhi-Chennai-Delhi round-trip saw a rise of four per cent to Rs. 98,500 from Rs. 94,700, and Delhi-Kandla-Delhi trip rental was up 3.4 per cent to Rs. 49,000 from Rs. 47,400. While the monthly increase of diesel price, since January 2013, has helped truck operators predict the fuel cost, they are not optimistic about improvement in freight availability on long-term basis as a bleak cargo outlook is seen for the manufacturing sector.

IFTRT pointed out that the recent excise duty cut might help CV makers, but it won’t have any impact on the final price of trucks, as the companies had effected a price hike of 1.5-2.5 per cent in January. It felt that the recovery in the road transport sector might take at least two quarters.

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