NEW DELHI: Better roads connecting major cities and more availability of luxury buses seem to have impacted the railways’ revenue.
The number of passengers travelling in AC chair car and executive class, meant primarily for inter-city travel on trains such as Shatabdi and Tejas, is estimated to decrease from nearly 35 million passengers in 2018-19 to about 33.8 million during the current fiscal ending March.
On the other hand, the number of passengers travelling AC 1, 2 and 3 is estimated to increase during this period. While the railways has projected a minor increase in the number of passengers in the AC first class, rise in the number of passengers is estimated to be significantly higher in the other two classes.
According to the Budget document, during 2018-19, nearly 138 million passengers travelled in AC-1, 2 and 3 compartments; the corresponding figure for this fiscal is estimated to be just over 143 million. The ministry has projected this cumulative number will increase to about 144 million passengers during 2020-21.
Though the railways has projected moderate increase in the number of passengers travelling in executive class and AC chair car for the next financial year — 35.3 million — officials said achieving that would be a tough task. “This is because now better roads and high quality bus service between cities like Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Lucknow and Pune-Mumbai have emerged as perfect alternative for people. It’s a challenge for us how to bring back passengers for this segment. Increase in number of passengers in AC-1 and 2 is an indicator that people prefer a more relaxed journey,” said a railway official.
He cited how the railways has now offered a Humsafar Express, which is a fully premium service with AC-3 tier and 3-tier sleeper class accommodation with modern facilities, to IRCTC to run between Varanasi and Indore under its initiative to give 150 trains to “private players” to run them. Till now it has given two Tejas trains with only seating facility to IRCTC, which operate on Delhi-Lucknow and Ahmedabad-Mumbai routes.
According to the Budget documents, the railways has targeted to increase the earnings from passenger segment to Rs 61,000 crore in 2020-21 as compared to Rs 56,000 crore during this fiscal. Nearly Rs 2,000 crore of this increase will come from hike in fare. It has projected freight earnings at Rs 1.47 lakh crore for 2020-21 as compared to Rs 1.43 lakh crore during this fiscal.

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