The railways have lost 150 million passengers in the 5 months of the current financial year, a fact that has left Manoj Sinha the Minister of State for Railways completely confounded. He allegedly said “the trains are always full and one cannot get a reservation, so how is this possible except that there must be something wrong with the numbers’.
What’s more alarming is that if the trend continues the railways expect a nearly 5 percent fall in passenger traffic by the end of the year. This is the second year passenger figures have gone down, as the Railways had lost 191 million passengers in 2014-15 too. Now the continuing downward trend indicates the railways need to buck up and find out why this is happening.
One official said the maximum loss has been in the short distance and suburban segment. Obviously passengers prefer road journeys to the unwelcoming railways and they prefer to pay more to save time than to wait for low fares and unpunctual crowded rains. He also spoke of ticket queues and vending machines that do not work and other simple hiccups such as the inconvenience of having to pay by cards which most passengers do not have.
Another official said it was possible many passengers are travelling without tickets as there is a shortage of ticket inspectors.
A saving grace thankfully is that railways registered a marginal increase of 8 million in the reserved category mainly accounting for long distance and AC coach travellers.