In 2012-13, Indian Railways crossed the originating freight traffic volume of one billion tonnes for the first time as it handled 1,010 million tonnes during the year. The Railways, thus, entered the select one-billion-plus railway freight traffic club of the world, the other members of which are China, US and Russia. During the same year, one of Indian Railways’ constituents, the Hajipur(Patna)-headquartered East Central Railway (ECR), too, rejoiced on loading a freight traffic of more than 100 mt for the first time, 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), Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway (ECoR), Kolkata-headquartered South Eastern Railway (SER) and Secunderabad-headquartered South Central Railway (SCR).
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 iron ore accounts for 54 per cent of the total traffic. ECR, even as it celebrates its new membership, is worried because its freight traffic is skewed not only in favour of one commodity, that is 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 that there is a tremendous pressure on the Grand Chord section, the 461-km long stretch between Asansol and Mughal Sarai.
— Our Bureau