With the restrictions imposed due to coronavirus being relaxed and the festival season beginning, the railways has registered an increase of 113 per cent in earnings from passenger segment during the second quarter of 2021-2022 as compared to the first, an RTI query has found.
The railways' earning from the passenger fare had remained in the red during 2020-21 when all its regular services were temporarily suspended for most of the year. So far, the railways has restored 96 per cent of trains which were operational during pre-Covid times.
Currently, the railways is running special trains, and regular services are yet to be operationalised.
In a reply to an RTI query from Madhya Pradesh-based Chandra Shekhar Gaur, the railways has said that its earnings in the first quarter from passenger fare was Rs 4,921.11 crore, while in Q2, the earnings climbed to Rs 10,513.07 crore.
Since the coronavirus-triggered lockdown was eased, the railways is running only special trains. It started with long-distance trains and now, even short-distance passenger trains are being run as special trains with "slightly higher fares" for passengers and other short-distance trains to "discourage people from avoidable travels".
While it is running 1,402 mail express trains at normal rates, 323 holiday special trains are being run at the usual higher rates.
"The primary reason for this increase in revenue is because more trains are in operation.
"Also, people now are starting to travel for not just business but also for leisure. In many states like Maharashtra where there were restrictions in travel they have now been eased," a senior official of the railways said.
The railways' earnings from freight which has surpassed expectations due both astute planning as well as freeway due to passenger trains being off-track for most of 2020-21, suffered a minor setback in the Q2 of the current fiscal as these services began.
While in Q1, revenue from goods was Rs 33,241.75 crore, in Q2, it is Rs 32,102.34 crore.
While the railways' earnings have dipped considerably since 2019-2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, the hike in revenue in the second quarter of the current financial year shows that people are again motivated to travel both for leisure and work.
In 2019-2020, the railways netted Rs 53,525.57 crore, in 2020-21, it managed only Rs 15,507.68 crore, around 71.03 per cent less in the passenger segment. In terms of losses, the figure stood at Rs 38,017 crore.