In 2012-13, Indian Railways (IR) for the first time crossed the originating freight traffic volume of one billion tonnes as it handled 1010 million tons during the year.
IR thus celebrated its entry into the select one billion plus railway freight traffic club of the world, the other members of the club being China, US and Russia. During the same year, one of IR’s constituents, the Hajipur (Patna)-headquartered East Central Railway (ECR) too rejoiced on loading for the first time a freight traffic of more than 100 mt thus joining the 100-million tonne (mt) club of Indian Railways.
In 2012-13, ECR handled 102.53 mt of originating freight traffic, slightly higher than the targeted 101.75 mt, as compared to 94.68 mt in 2011-12. With this, the membership of the club rises to five, the four other existing members being Bilaspur-headquartered South East Central Railway (SECR, 151.6 mt), Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway (ECoR, 133.4 mt), Kolkata-headquartered South Eastern Railway (SER, 124.33 mt) and Secunderabad-headquartered South Central Railway (SCR, 111.5 mt).
Coal is the single largest item of traffic for four members of the club — SECR 75 per cent, ECoR 60 per cent, ECR 56 per cent and ECR more than 90 per cent.
Only in case of SER, it is iron ore, accounting for 54 per cent of the total. ECR, even as it celebrates its new membership, is worried because its freight traffic is skewed not only in favour of one commodity,i.e. coal, but also in favour of one division.
Its Dhanbad division alone accounts for nearly 97 per cent of the total traffic, with the result there is a tremendous pressure on the Grand Chord section, the 461-km long stretch between Asansol and Mughal Sarai.