KARACHI: A comparative study of Pakistan Railways (PR) spread over a period of five years shows annual an uptick in freight revenue, with Karachi division generating record freight revenue of Rs18.76 billion in the outgoing fiscal year (FY21).
The study, shared by Railways with Dawn, shows that PR’s Karachi division, which has been entrusted with the management of freight trains, generated an all-time high freight revenue of Rs18.76bn in FY21 and surpassed the collection of Rs17.75bn achieved in FY19.
The cumulative tonnage loaded in all freight wagons during FY21 stood at 6.40 million tonnes, which is the highest since FY94, while surpassing the previous best of 6.321m tonnes in FY19. In addition, Karachi division loaded 215,291 freight wagons during FY21 — unmatched since FY94 — against the previous highest of loading 214,792 wagons during FY18.
A comparison of Karachi division’s five-year freight performance kicks off from revenue generation of Rs10.48bn during FY17. The transshipment of coal to two 660 MW coal-fired power plants in Yousufwala from January 2017 kicked a new era for freight service, with burgeoning revenues. During FY18, FY19 and FY20, Pakistan Railways’ Karachi division freight revenue escalated to Rs17.02, 17.2 and 17.75bn, respectively.
Multiple freight performance indicators shone through during March 2021. The loading of 20,000 wagons and revenue generation of Rs2bn plus per month are feats that were attained during the month of March 2021. It was only twice in the last five years that the freight service has generated Rs2bn plus in a month. The all-time monthly highest revenue of Rs2.114bn was generated in March 2021 while surpassing the previous best of Rs2.04bn achieved in October 2019.
The past five-year data reveals loading of 20,000-plus wagons seven times besides highlighting the achievement of this benchmark thrice in FY21 (December 2020, March and April 2021). During March 2021, loading of 22,566 wagons was carried out thereby outshining the previous best of 21,664 achieved in July 2018.
Yousufwala coal trains are the hallmark of freight trains departing the loading terminals from Karachi and they chip in around 55-60 per cent in overall freight revenue generation. Since the inception of this service in January 2017, 4,880 such trains had transported coal to Yousufwala. Each train comprises 40 advanced ZBKH hopper wagons having a cumulative tonnage capacity of 2,400. On average, during the last five years, 3.2 coal-laden trains from Karachi have departed for Yousufwala per day
FY19 depicted promising statistics for Yousufwala freight trains as 97,426 wagons were loaded, maximum number of 1,227 trains were dispatched and an earning of Rs10.68bn was achieved that occupied a significant chunk of 62pc in overall annual freight earnings. July 2018, the first month of FY19, ended in the loading of a maximum number of 12,330 wagons and processing of 155 trains that was followed by the loading of 11,124 wagons and processing of 138 trains during March 2021.
The monthly earning from Yousufwala service hit its climax at Rs1.365bn in March 2021. On March 27, 2021, an unprecedented per-day wagon loading of 392 for Yousufwala trains was achieved.
Apart from coal-laden trains, the ZBFC wagons, flat in shape, carry containers, ZBKC wagons carry coal and rock phosphate and two ZBC cargo trains 501Up and 503Up transport multiple items to upcountry from Karachi.
The highest number of all such wagons was loaded in February 2021 that stood at 13,104 against the previous highest of 12,344 in July 2016. The all-time highest revenue from these services stood at Rs.895m during November 2019.
Federal Minister for Railways Mohammad Azam Khan Swati has twice visited all the loading terminals in Karachi and directed for their upgradation to that of state-of-the art facilities so that all freight-related proceedings including loading can be conducted as per modern standards.
While talking to the media during his first press conference in Karachi on Jan 9, 2021, he vowed for doubling the freight revenue of the department and all efforts are now being made to achieve the minister’s targets in freight service.
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2021