The Indian Railway seems to have been hit hard by the economic slowdown with the earnings of the national transporter suffering a dip of Rs 155 crore and Rs 3,901 crore in passenger and freight fares respectively in the second quarter of the current fiscal, compared to the previous one, according to an RTI reply.
The RTI application filed by Chandra Shekhar Gaur, an activist based in Madhya Pradesh's Neemuch, revealed that in the first quarter (April-June) of financial year 2019-20, the railways earned a revenue of Rs 13,398.92 crore from passenger fare. This dipped to Rs 13,243.81 crore in the July-September quarter.
Similarly, in the first quarter, the railways earned Rs 29,066.92 crore from freight loading. In the second quarter, the earnings from freight came down to Rs 25,165.13 crore.
The slowdown also affected ticket bookings, which witnessed a 1.27 per cent decline in April-September 2019, as compared to the corresponding period last year.
Even suburban rail travel figures showed a decline of 1.13 per cent during this period, as compared to last year.
The railways has initiated a slew of measures to counter the slowdown. It recently waived its "busy season" surcharge on freight traffic, introduced a scheme offering a concession of up to 25 per cent on trains with air-conditioned chair car and executive class sitting and launched initiatives to phase out 30-year-old diesel engines, cut down on fuel bills, generate non-fare revenue and monetise its land holdings.
Last month, in a letter, the Railway Board urged all the 17 zones to take measures to counter the slowdown.
"The dip in freight loading is a cause of worry. While the flooding of coal mines has affected coal loading, the economic slowdown has affected the steel and cement sectors. However, we have taken measures to offset such losses and we will come out stronger," a senior railway official said.