Continuing with the sustained focus being given on increasing the freight business carried out by the Railways, as per the directions of the Railway Board, Business Development Unit (BDU) is being set up at Salem Division (Divisional level) over Southern Railway.  Similar units are being set up at all Divisions over Southern Railway.  The focus of these units is to double the freight carried by Railways by 2024, with particular focus in strengthening Railways’ share in existing traffic while at the same time strongly foraying into miscellaneous non-bulk goods traffic.

As part of it, Divisional Railway Manager, Salem Division, Southern Railway approved setting up of a multi disciplinary Business Development unit at the Divisional level comprising Junior Administrative Grade officers from all major relevant fields. Shri M. Harikumar, Senior Divisional Operations Manager (90039 56900), would be the convener of the BDU and will have Shri E. Harikrishnan, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager (Sr. DCM), Smt S. Uma Maheswari, Senior Divisional Finance Manager (Sr. DFM), and Shri  S. Mukundan, Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer  (Sr. DME) as its members.

The committee will have frequent interactions with the trade and industry to understand the existing pattern of goods transportation and explore the possibility of attracting additional freight traffic to railways. The BDU will also serve as a nodal point for speedy operationalisation of any new traffic proposals.

In this context, it may be mentioned that the freight traffic of Salem Division is back on the track of recovery, post the nation-wide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. The freight traffic has been consistently increasing from 0.067 MT in April, 2020 to 0.227 MT in May, 2020 and 0.245 MT in June, 2020. Importantly, traffic in several commodities has been increasing and in some commodities, has even crossed last year’s level of loading. For example, cement loading, which was only 0.013 MT in April, 2020, has risen continually to 0.079 MT in May, 2020 and to 0.069 MT in June, 2020. In fact, the cement loading in June, 2020 is higher than the cement loading witnessed in June, 2019 (i.e. 0.065 MT).

Shri U. Subba Rao, Divisional Railway Manager, Southern Railway has advised members of the newly formed Business Development Committee to have regular interactions with both the existing and new customers, so that focus is given equally to improve the freight traffic in both the segments. He informed that railways has been continuously taking several policy initiatives for the benefit of the freight customers and it is important that all these initiatives should reach the trade and industry, so that additional traffic is attracted towards railways. He suggested that committee members assist the freight customers to avail the policy/transportation benefits from the railways in order to capture new traffic.