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Worries for Indian Railways as Passenger Bookings Fall Over 4 Per cent

Worries for Indian Railways as Passenger Bookings Fall Over 4 Per cent
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With passenger booking falling over four per cent between April and August this year, a worried Indian Railways has raised concerns about a possible rise in passenger subsidy, according to sources.

With passenger booking falling over four per cent between April and August this year, a worried Indian Railways has raised concerns about a possible rise in passenger subsidy, according to sources.


A total of 3,427.84 million passengers travelled by trains during April and August as against 3,575.30 million during the corresponding period of the last fiscal year, a difference of 147.46 million, recording a fall of 4.12 per cent, according to the country's largest public transporter.

"The decrease of over 147 million passengers is definitely worrisome for us," said a senior Railway ministry official.

Passenger bookings are also way off the target of 3606.71 million fixed by railways for the five-month period. The Railways earned Rs. 19,394.75 crore during the period as against the target of Rs. 20,204.85 crore, a shortfall of 4.95 per cent.

Sources said that if this downslide is not checked, the passenger subsidy may go up further. Railway's passenger operations are heavily cross-subsidised from freight business amounting to Rs. 29,000 crore a year now. Any further decline in passenger earnings will be a matter of serious concern for the public transporter.

But the public sector transporter is expecting the upcoming festive season to provide the much needed surge in passengers."We are hopeful that the situation will improve as many special trains are being planned keeping the festival season in mind," said an official.

Alarmed at the decline, Chairman Railway Board (CRB), AK Mital has written to all zonal railways to ascertain the reasons for it. The issue was also raised at a recent meeting of General Managers.
According to officials, the fall has been witnessed mostly in short journey and unreserved segments and could be attributed to ticket-less travel.

According to the Railway ministry data, the public transporter could spend only Rs. 17,000 crore of the quarterly planned expenditure against an allocation of more than Rs. one lakh crore this fiscal.

Taking note of the low spending, the Prime Minister's Office has written to the Railways to speed up spending.
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