|A man walks across the tracks at a station in Hyderabad on Friday. (AFP).
Calcutta, Feb. 25: The wagon industry delivered 2,000 units in January, encouraging railway minister Mamata Banerjee — who had laid out a strict performance clause — to retain the previous budgets target of procuring 18,000 wagons in 2011-12.
The minister said her department would procure an all-time high of 16,500 wagons in the current financial year. Banerjee had projected to buy 18,000 wagons in last years budget.
The railways had placed an order for around 18,000 wagons in September after a gap of two years. It included fresh orders of 10,000 units announced in the 2010 rail budget and 8,000 wagons from the year before.
The wagon industry is hoping that the railways will clear all the backlog — it will have to place orders for 8,000 wagons as part of last years budget — in addition to the 18,000 units announced today.
Industry observers gave the credit to the minister for the improved performance of both private and public sector companies in 2010-11.
While placing the orders last year, the railways had said it would take away orders from both public and private companies if they failed to deliver on time.
Fillip for industry
Wagon makers Titagarh Wagons, Texmaco and Jessop welcomed the budget proposals, including the railways plan to involve private players in infrastructure projects.
The freight traffic projection of 993 million tonnes bodes well for the industry as the railways will have to procure enough rolling stock (wagons) to carry the goods.
The setting up of a National High Speed Rail Authority, running special freight trains by private operators, building a new rail line of 700 km and the target of completing the dedicated freight corridor by 2016 are some of the positive initiatives in the budget, Ramesh Maheshwari, executive vice-chairman of Texmaco, said.
Pawan Ruia, chairman of Jessop, applauded the rail industrial park at Jellingham. The proposed cluster will help in the development of industry in Bengal, he said.
She is thinking on a global scale, which I believe is a first in the railway ministry, Ruia said.
However, a note of caution came from Umesh Chowdhary, vice-chairman and MD of Titagarh Wagons. We believe the wagon industry has sufficient capacity to cater to the railways demand. Additional capacity creation by setting up new plants may not be desirable in the long run as it would result in sub-optimisation of capacity utilisation, he said.