Secunderabad (SC): For the past few years, number of passengers travelling on trains has been decreasing. For the first time, Railways has officially explained why it lost passengers last year.
Railways has blamed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, agitation over Telangana, easy availability of two-wheeler loans and and even weather gods— almost everything under the sun, but itself— for carrying 163 million less passengers last year. The reasons were enlisted in Railways’ reply to a specific question by Standing Committee on Railways which tabled its report in Parliament Monday. The 31-member Committee headed by Dinesh Trivedi, former Union Minister of Railways (under UPA regime) however, has not been convinced. “The Committee therefore impressed upon Railways to realistically examine the reasons for the dissatisfaction of passengers,” it has replied.
Railways has said: “Due to bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh from June 2014, movement of passengers between Andhra Pradesh state and twin cities of Secundrabad and Hyderabad has decreased considerably,”it has said. It has also cited 2014 general election and the agitation over Telangana as reasons for losing passengers.
Sample this: “On South Central Railway, last year, due to Telangana agitation, and bus strikes, seven million passengers had shifted to rail mode. This year (presumably meaning after Telangana’s creation), these passengers have gone back to road mode.”
Referring to a sharp drop in passenger numbers in the 1-40 km distance slab, Railways has said: “…the two wheeler segment has clocked a growth of 12.9 per cent (year on year) to reach nearly 13.5 million units by October 2014. This is attributed to low cost of two wheelers and availability of easy loan options which have attracted large segment in both rural and urban areas to shift to road over short distances.”
Railways, however, has conceded that the trend can be reversed by improving its own performance. “Since a large number of passengers using rail in this segment (short distances) are daily commuters, improvement in punctuality and review of train timings at origin, enroute and the destination station to suit commuter requirements is probably the only way to attract/retain passengers,” it said.