Indian Railways has announced a 15 percent hike in its freight charges for all bulk commodities, effective Oct. 1, as part of a "busy season tariff adjustment."
"The busy season charge on all commodities will remain in force from Oct. 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014. Container and automobile segments are exempted from the busy season traffic," the state-owned enterprise said in a statement.
The move has drawn sharp protests from local trade associations, which said the additional costs will place severe pressure on the industry:
"The hike has come at a most inopportune time when the entire industrial scenario is down due to factors such as economic slowdown and lack of orders,” a represenative of the Coimbatore District Small Industries Association said. "Diesel prices are being hiked on a regular basis and the proposed hike in railway freight tariff will be damaging to the industry."
Indian Railways carried 426.14 million tons of revenue-earning freight traffic from April through August, the first five months of fiscal year 2013-14, rising 5.1 percent year-over-year. Traffic in August totaled 83.14 million tons, up 6 percent from a year earlier.