With passenger services being impacted by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, traffic revenue of Indian Railways until August this year has declined by more than 42 per cent over the same period last year.
Passenger train operations were halted from 23 March onwards owing to the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19. Gradual resumption of passenger train services began from 1 May onwards. Freight trains, however, continued to operate.
The total amount of refund granted up to 10 September 2020 due to cancellation of tickets booked until 14 April 2020 for a journey period from 22 March 2020 to 12 August 2020 in regular time table trains, which were cancelled due to lockdown, was approximately Rs 3,371.50 crore, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said in response to a question in Parliament.
Up to the end of August 2020, the number of originating passengers has been 1.27 per cent of the corresponding period last year, and freight loading has been 86.6 per cent of the same period last year.
“Consequently, the traffic revenue of the railway for the period, at Rs 41,844.31 crore, has declined by 42.3 per cent over the corresponding period last year,” Goyal said.
Freight revenue of Indian Railways at the end of August this year stood at Rs 39,648.02 crore as compared to Rs 46,433.37 crore earned at the end of August 2019, Parliament was informed.
Indian Railways has gradually resumed the operation of passenger trains as special train services with 15 pairs of Rajdhani specials that began operations from 12 May onwards, 100 pairs of special trains from 1 June onwards, 43 pairs of special trains from 12 September onwards, and 705 suburban services from 15 June onwards.
The ministry has taken a many steps to simplify freight policy to boost freight revenue, Goyal added.
Some of these measures include exemption from levy of Demurrage, Wharfage and other ancillary charges from 22 March 2020 to 17 May 2020 to facilitate freight customers and to provide logistics support for movement of essential goods, discounts on haulage charge for movement of loaded containers, among others.
The private freight terminal (PFT) policy has been revised with a view to making it more customer-friendly. Besides, automobile traffic and parcel traffic have been opened for export to Bangladesh.
With a view to enhance passenger earnings, the resumption of passenger train services has been undertaken by Indian Railways in a phased manner based on the demand pattern subject to Covid-19 situation and the government’s directives.
Periodical review of occupancy, quota utilisation, waiting list of trains is done and adjustments are made, wherever required. Besides, measures to enhance passenger earnings are a continuous and an on-going process.