New passenger revenue ceiling comes as a shocker to rural railway stations

TIRUCHCHIRAPPALLI: The committee, constituted by the railway board to review the norms for provision of passenger amenities and user facilities at stations has revised station revenue ceiling manifold, leaving passengers in the lurch.

Categories of stations too have been revised and accordingly, A1 category stations whose revenue was earlier fixed at Rs 60 crore, will now have to generate Rs500 crore, under the category NSG 1, to be eligible for passenger amenities. Under the new norms, which have been proposed for the next five years commencing from 2018, 73% of stations across India will automatically become ineligible to secure passenger amenities.

Meanwhile, railway unions have alleged that this was a tactic adopted by the railways to abandon halt and village stations. They requested the board to minimise the revenue ceiling, so that even stations in rural areas can gain the required facilities.

Considering traffic volume and expectations of the travelling public, ministry of railways is improving facilities and services at stations and on trains accordingly. However, the board has stressed the need to give importance to stations from the point of view of passenger traffic.

At the time of revision made for the period 2013-17, the committee had fixed Rs 60 crore and above for A1 category stations and Rs 60 lakh as ceiling for ‘F’ category stations. However, the stations are now segregated into 12 categories based on the earnings. There are a total of 8,738 stations across the country, which includes 2,326 rural stations, 507 suburban electric train stations and 5,905 other stations.

As per the current report, stations are categorised into three major categories, such as suburban, non-suburban and halt. Suburban stations have been again sub-divided into three categories such as SG 1(suburban grade), SG 2 and SG 3. Non-suburban stations have also been segregated into six more sub-categories such as NSG 1 (non-suburban grade), NSG 2, NSG 3, NSG 4, NSG 5 and NSG 6. The same way, halt stations too are divided into three sub-categories such as HG 1(halt grade), HG 2 and HG 3.

For the purpose of categorisation of a station, the basic parameter will be the passenger earnings of the stations from both reserved and unreserved and outward passengers handled at the station. The earnings are to be calculated on the basis of the number of passengers boarding at a particular station (both reserved and unreserved), irrespective of the location from where the ticket has been issued. The data for passenger earning should be collected from PRS (passenger reservation system), UTS (unreserved ticketing system), SPTM (self-printing ticket machine) and JTBS (Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewak).

As per the committee report submitted in 2018, city railway stations (NSG 1) should earn Rs 500 crore or more as revenue and NSG 3 should earn Rs.1 crore. The SG 1 category should earn Rs25 crore or more and for SG 3, it must be Rs10 crore.

Unions have slammed the manner in which stations have been categorised. “This is like the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer,” alleged deputy general secretary of Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU), D Manoharan. “As per the committee report, a total of 6,364 stations (73%) will come under the last categories (NSG 6, SG 3, HG 3). Of them, a total of 2,266 are in villages. So, the railway board should reconsider its decision to implement the latest committee report. It will further bring down the earnings of the stations,” he said.

Even Trichy Junction railway station could not reach the category of NSG 1. Improving the city stations is a good move, but it is not fair to abandon majority of the stations stating passenger earnings, he added.