Trains may be running full, but there is a decline in number of tickets booked in the past six months, causing worry for cash-strapped Railways.
The number of passengers travelling in the non-suburban sector, which include reserved and unreserved class in mail and express trains, during April-September was 1,982.35 million as against 2,058.03 million in the same period last year.
Ticket bookings in the six-month period, according to Railway Ministry data, showed a decrease of 3.68 percent as compared to last year.
Though the passenger fare along with reservation fee and super-fast surcharge were hiked this year, the growth in earnings is not up to the expectation.
The passenger earnings during April-September period were Rs 18,099.83 crore as against Rs 15,582.42 crore during the same period last year, an increase of 16.16 percent only though the projection was more than 20 percent.
Blaming ticket-less journey for the fall in revenue, Railway Board Member (Traffic) Devi Prasad Pandey said, "We have intensified ticket checking exercise at major stations. Steps are being taken to make tickets easily available with opening up of more counters and deployment of more personnel for this."
Besides intensifying ticket checking drive, Railways is also installing ticket vending machines at more stations for short journey.
"Though coaches are running with full capacity, ticket bookings are not matching to it," Pandey said, adding that, "It should not happen because all trains are running full."
Asked whether fare hike and economic slowdown have adversely affected the passenger movement, Pandey said, "Road travel is costlier than train and it is the preferred mode of transport for common people in the country."
As far as economic slowdown is concerned, he said, "It is not the sole reason. People are travelling in trains and there are long queues for buying train tickets always."
Booking in long distance journey has not been affected. The fall in ticket booking has been noticed in short journeys, he said.
Pandey is, however, hopeful of tiding over the situation. "Passenger bookings will improve in the coming months and it has already shown an increasing trend this month due to various measures being undertaken," he said.