Indian Railways Expects Loss Of Up To Rs 35,000 Crore As Passenger Trains Lie Stranded
People walk along along a platform as trains sit idle at the New Delhi Railway station in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Indian Railways Expects Loss Of Up To Rs 35,000 Crore As Passenger Trains Lie Stranded

Indian Railways expects revenue loss of up to Rs 35,000 crore from its passenger segment in the ongoing fiscal as movement of trains continues to be strained amid the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns.

“This year we’re looking at just 10-15% of the passenger segment revenue compared to Rs 50,000 crore last year,” VK Yadav, chairman of the railway board, told reporters during a web conference on Tuesday evening.

Indian Railways is currently running only 230 passenger trains with 75% occupancy compared with the more than 13,000 daily mail, express and suburban trains it used to operate prior to the outbreak. “Demand is a concern in the passenger railways and we don’t know how it will pan out in the future,” Yadav said.

Asia’s oldest railway is banking on freight business to offset losses from the passenger segment. “The target for freight loading has been fixed in such a way that whatever shortfall we see from the passenger traffic, it will be made up by freight traffic,” Yadav said, but didn’t disclose the revenue it expects by transporting goods.

The government, in this year’s budget, had set a freight loading target of 1,265 million tonnes for 2020-21. The target for freight earnings for the ongoing fiscal is around Rs 1.47 lakh crore, while passenger revenue was estimated at Rs 61,000 crore.

Yadav, however, said he’s optimistic that freight loading will increase by 50% this year compared to last year, and would be achieved by developing infrastructure, improving efficiency in operations and rationalising policies. He said the railways is working on reducing freight costs and transit time of goods.

The railways is also working on a marketing strategy and has decided to set up business development units across different zones in the country to connect with stakeholders concerned, he said.

Barring reduced demand for coal, it’s seeing increased freight as loading of other items like steel, iron ore, grains and fertilisers has increased as economic activity resumed.

To be sure, the freight load till July 27—at 81.3 million tonnes—is already 95% of what it was in July 2019.

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