Railways gains from slowdown

Anil Kumar Sastry

Premium classes register sharp increase in the number of passengers

BANGALORE: The passenger traffic segment of the Railways has not only remained unaffected by the economic slowdown, but also appears to have gained from it.

The number of people travelling in premium classes on trunk routes such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai from Bangalore has gone up in the past three months.

While the number of passengers on trains operated by South Western Railway (SWR) increased by an average of 16 per cent during September-November compared to the corresponding period last year, the passenger revenue too saw an increase by an average of 11 per cent for the same period. SWR handled 29.91 million passengers and gained a revenue of Rs. 200.44 crore during September-November last, while it netted a revenue of Rs. 222.96 crore during the same period this year.

More people travelled in premium classes, first, two-tier and three-tier air-conditioned, during 2008 and the Railways appears to have benefited from the lull in the aviation industry.

According to B.S. Dasarathi, Chief Public Relations Officer, SWR, this trend was more visible on trunk routes.

While the distance of the new airport from Bangalore city could have discouraged many individual flyers, including businessmen, many corporate houses have been reportedly discouraging air travel for distances that can be covered overnight by road or rail, for their executives, thus fuelling the passenger volume in premium classes.

Mr. Dasarathi told The Hindu that the Rajdhani Express between Bangalore and Nizamuddin (Delhi) registered 35 per cent increase in first AC (897 passengers in 2007 to 1211 in 2008); 40.41 per cent in two-tier AC (9664 to 13570) and 23.91 per cent increase in three-tier AC (26612 to 32976) between September and November. These classes were overbooked during 2008, registering occupancy of 129 per cent, 115 per cent and 123 per cent, respectively, as against 95 per cent, 82 per cent and 99 per cent during 2007.

“The Railways have benefited from the slowdown,” Mr. Dasarathi said.

In Karnataka Super Fast Express (Bangalore-New Delhi) too, the number of passengers travelled increased by 17.87 per cent and 11.94 per cent in two-tier and three-tier AC classes, respectively.

Short distance trains

Similar was the case with executive class in Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdis (Train Nos. 2008 and 2028). While their chair car classes registered a moderate increase of 12 per cent and 13 per cent, the executive classes registered 22 per cent and 56 per cent increase during the relevant period. Udyan Express, the most sought after train to Mumbai, registered a whopping 82 per cent increase in first class AC, the number of passengers travelled in this class rose from 361 to 658. The two-tier AC and three-tier AC registered an increase of 29.35 per cent and 7.73 per cent, respectively.

On Bangalore-Kacheguda (Hyderabad) Express, occupancy in two-tier AC was over 107 per cent during September and November as against 79.5 per cent during the corresponding period last year, and in three-tier AC, the occupancy rate was 93.64 per cent as against 66.34 per cent.

While sleeper classes registered an average growth between 2 per cent and 5 per cent in all trains, the visible change has been in the premium classes.

On Rani Chennamma Express between Bangalore and Kolhapur, two-tier AC class registered 9.65 per cent increase in the passenger volume, while the three-tier registered 21.71 per cent increase.

On Hampi Express too, first class AC registered 10.38 per cent increase in the volume.

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