Lockdown-Hit Railways Ferry About 50,000 Stranded Passengers Till Now
Stepping up efforts, the public transporter has facilitated about 50,000 stranded passengers returning homes across the country with more than 45 Shramik Specials being pressed into service till now.
While the Railways is getting normal Sleeper fare from concerned states, the cost of train operation seems to be much higher than the earning during the critical period as the national transporter claims.
Though the earning varies from train to train depending upon the distance and number of passengers travelling, fare collection is ranging between Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh per train, according to sources in railways.
However, the running cost is much more as the train is running with only 70 per cent to 80 per cent occupancy due to social distancing norm and the entire train has to return empty to its originating station.
Besides, the cost of sanitisation, accompanying security, running staff, maintenance, signalling and other related exercise required for running train are adding up to much higher amount than the fare collections, sources added.
Though the cost of running Shramik Special train is yet to be finalised, it is being roughly calculated to be three to four times more than the average earning.
Railways passenger business is always a loss-making one and it is cross-subsidised from the freight profit.
On normal days, railways bear the burden of 43 per cent subsidy per ticket on an average.
“But here our aim is not to earn profit as it is our responsibility to ferry these stranded passengers safely,” a senior railway official said adding “we would continue as long as the sending and receiving states would coordinate to requisition the service.”
Launched on May 1, the special train service was made operational to transport workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places in the country amid lockdown to their respective destinations.
Since then the special trains are requisitioned from many places such as Ernakulam, Trivandrum, Nashik, Bangalore, Thrissur, Kota, Jaipur, Surat, Sabarmati to Lucknow, Danapur, Haita, Agra, Katihar, Mujaffarpur, Gaya, Barauni and Jagannathpur among others.
There are some 20 trains scheduled to depart on Monday and an equal number on Tuesday also.
As per the guidelines, Railways will print train tickets to the specified destination as per the number of passengers indicated by the originating state.
The city authorities will handover tickets to passengers and handover total fair to the Railways.
Besides sanitisation, there are provision of meal and packaged water on trains by the Railways.
There will be no ticket sale at counters as the tickets are booked in bulk by the sending state in advance.
On arrival at their destinations, the passengers will be received by the state government authorities who would make all arrangements for their screening, quarantine (if necessary) and further travel from the railway station.