"Cases of excessive detentions of wagons at various activity centres affecting the availability of wagons, non-availability of locomotives for running the goods trains and deterioration in average speed of goods trains point towards a monitoring mechanism that warrants streamlining," CAG has said in its latest report tabled in Parliament on Friday.

Delay in induction of the 15,815 wagons in the railway system led to an avoidable loss of earning capacity of Rs 1,635.67 crore in seven zonal railways, it said.     

Freight movement is one of the core activities of Indian Railways in terms of earning revenue as well as transport effort. Railways carries more than 35 percent of the total freight traffic of the country and about two-third of its revenue comes from transportation of goods.

The operation of goods trains depends largely on the adequate availability of required rolling stock, crew and appropriate paths for movement of goods trains, maintaining the rolling stock in good condition by facilitating timely repair and maintenance and ensuring optimum utilization of
locos/wagons by achieving reduction in turn-around time.

The national auditor, in its report covering performance of freight train operations during the period 2008-13, has found the requirement of rolling stock assessed did not have any input from the zonal railways, the ultimate user.

Further, the quantity procured during the review period was not in line with the requirement assessed, it said.     

It was also observed that even the ordered quantity of wagons was not supplied in full by the railway production units and public sector wagon manufacturers and the shortfall in wagon manufacturing was 36 and 24 percent respectively.

Funds provided for procurement of wagons were not utilised resulting in savings in all the years except for 2011-12. Principal lease payment of Rs 5514 crore made to Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) from capital led to the railways bearing an additional dividend liability of Rs 221 crore, the audit said.
Out of 77,639 new wagons allotted by the Railway Board to various zonal railways, 53,539 wagons (69 percent) were inducted into the railway system with in a period of one year and the remaining wagons were inducted in the subsequent years.

Deterioration in the various efficiency parameters like wagon turn round, hot axles, detachment, train parting, spring breakage, poor brake power affected smooth and efficient freight train operations, the report said.

The CAG said average detention was more than 24 hours in respect of 32 percent of the wagons dealt with at selected loading and unloading points during 2008-13.

Further, the rakes after having been released from goods sheds suffered detentions in terminal yards which averaged up to 15 hours.

This coupled with detentions of rakes at enroute stations on account of stabling of rakes due to non-availability of path, crew changing affected efficient operations of goods trains, it said.

The goods sheds were found deficient in basic facilities for loading/unloading affecting timely receipt and dispatch of goods trains consequently leading to abnormal detentions of rolling stock.

The CAG also found that freight trains were running in abysmally slow speed. More than 50 percent of the train run was observed at an average speed below 20 kmph.     

Empty run of wagons had been consistently at 33 percent during 2008-13 despite measures initiated by IR to capture the traffic in empty direction, it said.

 Test audit also revealed that more than 50 percent of the goods trains started late for want of locomotives.

Wagons found unfit for operational activities during the examination suffered detentions for abnormally longer periods in terminal yards and sick lines.

The audit observed that wagons suffered excessive detention during periodical overhauling in workshops as well as in yards before putting them for use.

An amount of Rs 62.22 crore was spent on repairs of 3,661 unloadable wagons in zones of North Western, South Central, and South Eastern alone. The amount spent on repair of another 7,551 unloadable wagons was not made available to audit.

Improper handling of wagons by the siding owners was cited as the reason for wagons becoming unloadable.

The report observed that out of 45,563 wagons initially rejected during 2008-13, 39,853 were subsequently passed locally without being certified as fit in eight zonal railways and put into service.

"This was irregular and in contravention of rules and a compromise with the safe running of freight trains," it said.

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