PATNA: It may sound strange, but the railways on Tuesday admitted that it spends Rs.72 lakh and earns only Rs.5,640 annually by running a train on Patna-Digha route. Though the train service has been temporally suspended for a few days because of some technical works going on platform number 2 of Patna Junction, it causes traffic snarls on Bailey Road crossing around 10am and 4pm during peak hours, daily.
Hearing a writ petition, the division bench of Justices Ravi Ranjan and S Kumar wondered how relevant it was for the railways to run such a train on this route and ordered the general manager of East Central Railways (ECR) to file a counter affidavit within a week about the view the Indian Railways holds in this regard. The court had taken suo motu cognisance of the train being run with such a huge expenditure and almost no earning at all.
The railways has submitted that only 47 tickets are sold while Rs6.06 lakh is spent for running the train on this route every month and Rs.72 lakh annually, advocate general Lalit Kishore, who appeared for the state, said.
“A ticket on this route costs Rs.10. The then railway minister, Lalu Prasad, had ordered the railways to continue the train on the this route despite the losses,” said Patna junction station director B K Chaudhary.
When contacted, ECR chief public relation officer Rajesh Kumar said the state government had approached the ECR a few years back to hand over the land used by the railways on this route to the state. “I am not aware of the court proceedings, but railways runs trains between several locations without any profit,” he said and added that the ECR had forwarded the state government’s proposal to the railway board.
“ECR is not authorized to take any decision on such issues. The board will take a call on transfer of the land to the state government. As of now, the matter is pending before the board,” Kumar added.
The matter would come up for hearing after a week.