According to a report carried by the Financial Express, IR was only able to procure an average of 560 wagons per month. IR has estimated it needs 2000 wagons per month to meet freight demand. The minister also stated that IR was dealing with a procurement backlog of 18,000 wagons at the end of FY 17-18. In addition, he said that IR intends to place a fresh order of 22,000 wagons.
Coal consumers are the biggest users of IR’s freight transport services. With robust demand for power, and thus coal, the volume of coal carried by IR is set to continue to increase for the foreseeable future. IR’s freight loading target for 2018-19 is 1.2 billion tonnes, up from 2017-18’s 1.1 billion tonnes. Much of the increase is expected to come from coal needed by powerplants or other heavy industries.
Inability of manufacturers to supply enough wagons has limited IR’s ability to carry more coal, combined with the other major constraint; track capacity. With line tripling and quadrupling projects underway in coal belt areas of Central Railway, South East Central Railway and other zones, the need for more wagons will become critical for IR.