GUWAHATI, May 5 - A drop in transportation of various commodities, including coal, mineral oil and fertiliser, led to a decrease in the year-on-year cumulative revenue earnings from freight traffic of the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) during the 2019-20 fiscal.
NFR�s revenue earnings from freight traffic on an originating basis stood at Rs 1,066.64 crore in 2019-20 compared to Rs 1,164.51 crore in the previous financial year 2018-19, resulting in an annual fall of 8.40 per cent.
During the period under review, the commodity-wise freight traffic on an originating basis of NFR also went down by 7.39 per cent year-on-year to 8.77 million tonnes (MT) as against 9.47 MT in 2018-19.
�The earnings took a hit on account of the overall slowdown in the Indian economy. 2019-20 was not a particularly good year for our country�s economy. There was considerable slack in demand for various commodities. As such, transportation of freight commodities also went down to some extent,� said a source.
Asked if the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown had an impact on the figures, the source said, �That is not the case. We are looking at the figures of 2019-20. The pandemic hit India only in the fourth quarter of the financial year and the lockdown was imposed only a week before the fiscal year was about to end. But even then, though passenger services were suspended after imposition of the lockdown, freight trains continued to run. The impact of the lockdown will be visible in the numbers for 2020-21.�
NFR�s freight earnings from coal, cement, fertiliser, mineral oil and container service witnessed a dip in the last fiscal as against 2018-19. However, the zone reported a growth in earnings from transportation of raw materials for steel plants and foodgrains.
During the financial year ended March 31, 2020, NFR earned Rs 98.97 crore from transportation of 0.60 MT of coal.
Coal continues to be a major source of earnings from freight traffic for the NFR, despite the annual drop witnessed this time. The same is the case with mineral oil.
Besides coal, other commodities like mineral oil, foodgrains and raw materials for steel plants form the biggest component of freight traffic of the NFR zone.
In 2019-20, NFR earned Rs 168.13 crore from transportation of 1.52 MT of raw materials for steel plants and Rs 5.32 crore from 0.09 MT of cement.
NFR transported 0.70 MT of foodgrains earning Rs 186.59 crore during the fiscal under review, while it also transported 0.17 MT of fertilisers earning Rs 11.49 crore in revenue.
In the last fiscal, NFR earned Rs 367.29 crore from transportation of 2.63 MT of mineral oil.
Besides, the zone earned Rs 21.40 crore from transportation of 0.08 MT of container service, Rs 207.40 crore from 2.98 MT of �other goods�, and Rs 5 lakh by transporting a small quantity of pig iron and finished steel in the period from April 2019 to March 2020.
Overall, in 2019-20 fiscal, Indian Railways� cumulative revenue earnings from freight traffic stood at over Rs 1,23,244 crore, a decline of over 1.6 per cent on an annual basis, while its commodity-wise freight traffic also registered a fall of over one per cent to 1,210.46 MT.
Sources admitted that 2020-21 is also likely to be a tough year. �The first quarter will be really bad as the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown will be felt by all the zones, including the NFR. However, we hope that the situation will improve by the second quarter and go for a turnaround by the third. Yet, it is too early to make a forecast,� an official said.