S.Rly records growth in passenger traffic

CHENNAI, NOV.1. The Southern Railway registered an impressive growth in passenger traffic while its freight traffic plummeted in the first six months of the current financial year.

Against a target of Rs 599.43 crores fixed by the Railway Board, the zone earned Rs 607.63 crores in passenger traffic, an increase of six per cent. The earnings are Rs 34.92 crores more than the actual passenger revenue recorded during the same period last year.

The Chennai-Tiruchi-Tirunelveli corridor is the highest passenger revenue earning sector out of 37 corridors identified by the Railway for statistical purpose. This sector earned Rs. 97 crores in the first half of the current financial year.

Railway sources said there was a phenomenal increase in passenger traffic on the Chennai- Tirunelveli section, especially after gauge conversion. All trains, including specials being operated during summer and holiday seasons are running to full complement of passengers. `` We never expected this much increase in traffic because we completed the project in a record time''.

The Chennai - Bangalore sector is the next corridor with an earning of Rs 68.40 crores. The Chennai-Thanjavur-Tiruchi MG section has also fared better with an earning of Rs 23.84 crores. There will be very good potential for increasing the traffic on this section if it is converted into broad gauge. The board has already cleared conversion and the work is likely to commence in the next financial year.

Referring to the freight traffic, the sources said after witnessing a steady growth in the last three years, the zone registered a downward trend. Except foodgrains, all commodities showed a downward trend in the first six months. As against the board's target of 13.85 million tonnes, the zone moved 12.614 million tonnes. In terms of actual traffic it was 1.912 million tonnes less than what was transported during the corresponding period last year. Last year in the first six months 14.526 million tonnes of cargo was moved by the zone.

The drop in traffic is mainly due to loss in coal movement. It has lost a substantial coal traffic after the formation of a new port at Ennore. Earlier the zone moved coal to the TNEB power plant to Athipet from the Chennai port. Now it is being moved by conveyor belts from the Ennore port. Compared to last year's movement of 6.85 million tonnes of coal only 4.8 million tonnes was moved in the first half of the current year.

Movement of other commodities-cement, petroleum products, and fertilizers-was not encouraging compared to last year. Only foodgrains traffic increased from 0.796 million tonnes to 1.049 million tonnes.

The Southern Railway General Manager, Mr. Ajit Kishore, in his message to employees, pointed out that the originating loading and earning figures of the zone were below the proportionate targets, while the working expenses had gone up. In the coming months, they should concentrate on garnering additional revenue by adopting an aggressive marketing strategy, coupled with a customer-oriented approach.

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