The South Central Railway (SCR), like the rest of the railway zones, is staring at a huge dip in passenger earnings expecting only between ₹500 crore and ₹1,000 crore when compared to about ₹4,100 crore the last financial year. Even freight earnings have been down by 30% so far but it is expected to pick up with time-tabled freight trains, fare concessions and as the economy moves, said general manager Gajanan Mallya on Wednesday.
“There was nil passenger traffic during the pandemic-induced lockdown. We are running special trains towards specific destinations based on demand and as per respective States permissions. We will introduce more trains as the pandemic eases. Freight is looking up with 33% rise this month in comparison. We hope to do better,” he said, during his first virtual press conference.
Freight too got hit because of low demand for coal from thermal power plants and coal had been a major revenue generator. Bountiful rains and enhanced non-conventional energy production ensured that the demand did not pick up but there had been improvement in transport of foodgrains and fertilisers on account of more agriculture activity, he said, pointing out that the SCR was the first to run an exclusive ‘Kisan Rail’.
Teams were formed to target new business with attractive schemes introduced to get more freight by rail. Special business development units were started in all divisions to lure customers. ‘Shramik’ trains too were run from here; more trains could be introduced based on demand and permissions. It was for the same reason that more trains were not being run towards Chennai and Kakinada.
Local suburban trains would be run once the Government permitted the same as in the rest of the country. “We will follow all necessary safety protocols of sanitisation, social distance, face mask, et al when we start the services,” said the GM. With regard to MMTS Phase-II, Mr. Mallya put the onus on the State government, pointing out that more than ₹600 crore was due as per the cost-sharing agreement. “We are not going to delay any work from our side but unless funds are infused, it cannot be done faster,” he said.
For the upcoming private trains, the GM said BHEL-R.C. Puram and Telapur were identified as potential originating stations. “We have identified space within our lands for maintenance of these trains whose rakes are going to be different. The picture will become clearer once technical bids are finalised by the Railway Board,” he said.