Freight traffic on Indian Railways

Importance of Freight traffic

  • Freight traffic is the major source of revenue for Indian Railways.
  • Only one-third of the 13000 trains running daily on IR are freight trains, but it accounts 65% of total revenue of IR.
  • Railway Freight traffic is vital for economic and industrial progress of the country.
  • Raw materials from producing centers  to factories and finished/semi-finished products from factories to consumption areas or ports for export has to be carried. Eg: Coal reserves from Bengal and Bihar has to be transported to thermal and steel plants all over the country.

Share of traffic  carried over rail/road


















Goods Traffic on IR for the Year 2010-11

  • Net tonne Kilometres  - 626,473
  • Originating Tonnage - 926.4 (in Millions)

Diversion of freight traffic

  • Taking into overall cost of transport road transport is generally economical only for short hauls only.

Railways plays dominant role for meeting transport requirement for the following reasons:

  • More energy efficient:  Using same quantity of fuel Railways carry more than 6 times the traffic that could be carried by road. Thus it reduces the burden on foreign exchange.
  • Less pollution :  Railways are more environment friendly especially for electric traction.
  • Better Land use

Goods operations Points

  • Loading/unloading points viz, station platforms, goods sheds and sidings which maybe private, assisted or railways owned.
  • Sections through which various kinds of goods trains are run to carry the traffic from originating to destination points.
  • Intermediate marshalling yards where goods trains are received, reformed and dispatched.
  • Transhipment points where goods are transshipped from one gauge to another.
  • Control organization which is responsible for planning, organizing and monitoring of goods operation as well as passenger traffic.

Units of Loading

  • Smalls traffic ie, less than wagon load.
  • Wagon load.
  • Full train load
  • Containers

Discontinuance of less than wagon load

IR discontinued booking of less than wagon load as it was neither convenient nor economical for following reasons.

  • Wagon space is poorly utilized as waiting for full wagon  delays the dispatch of consignment.
  • Repeated handling of goods leading to claims.
  • Cumbersome documentation.
  • Van Goods trains which carry the consignments may have poor average speeds due to detention at stations for loading/unloading or shunting and hence poor utilization of Rolling stock and Line Capacity.

Booking of Train load Traffic

  • Rail Transport is most cost effective where traffic is moved in point to point train loads without the need of shunting/sorting enroute.
  • Major commodities forming 90% of goods traffic are amenable to be moved in train loads.

Steps taken to encourage train load traffic

  • Quoting reduced rates for train loads.
  • Encouraging collieries and major users of coal like thermal power houses to have their sidings suitably strengthened/ extended to ensure full rake loading.
  • To set up coal dumps  at nodal points for small consumers.
  • To encourage steel authorities to set up steel stock yards so that full train loads of iron and steel products could move from steel plants to stock yards.
  • Encourage oil companies to install full rake sidings at loading/unloading points for POL trains.
  • Ensure Jumpo rakes consisting of covered Roller Bearing CBC wagons are provided for laoding and transport of commodities such as foodgrains, cement and fertilizers.