Railways Earnings From Ticketing, Freight Take A Hit
A train sits at a platform in Surat Railway Station at dusk in Surat, Gujarat, India. (Photographer: Karen Dias/Bloomberg)  

Railways Earnings From Ticketing, Freight Take A Hit

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The railways has witnessed a shortfall of around Rs 12,000 crore from ticketing, loading and sundries in the April-August period this year as compared to the corresponding period last year, with the national transporter failing to meet any of its target growth rates in the first five months of the current fiscal, according to official documents.

While the railways' earnings have gone up by 3.3 percent, its expenses have gone up by 8.65 percent from April-August, 2018 to April-August, 2019.

The deficit of Rs 11,852.91 crore does not take into account the expenses for the salaries of the staff or pension, which is likely to take the shortfall to a much higher amount.

While despite efforts, railway officials refused to give a consolidated number, reports suggested that the shortfall could be of around Rs 30,000 crore by the year-end.

According to the documents, the railways had set a target to achieve a 9.65 percent growth in passenger earnings by August, but in reality, it managed a growth of 4.56 percent over the same period last year.

Similarly, it had set a target of 12.22 percent growth in freight loading, but the actual increase stood at 2.80 percent.

"There is a thinking that there is a shortfall and that we should economise. We are thinking about it. We should improve the effectiveness, economise and we are working towards that effect. We are taking various measures to ensure that," a railway spokesperson said.

The railways has, in fact, initiated a slew of measures to counter the slowdown. It recently waived its "busy season" surcharge on freight traffic, it has introduced a scheme offering a concession of up to 25 percent on trains with AC chair car and executive class sitting and it has also taken initiatives to phase out the diesel engines that are 30 years old, cut down on fuel bills, generate non-fare revenue and monetise its land holdings.

Earlier this month, in a letter, the Railway Board had urged all the 17 zones to take measures to counter the slowdown.

According to the 2019-20 budget estimates, 40 percent of the railways' expenditure is incurred on account of salary and other allowances and 23 percent on account of pension.

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