In the first quarter, for the first time in its 167-year-long history, the Indian Railways refunded a higher amount of money than what it earned from ticket bookings, registering a negative passenger segment revenue of Rs 1,066 crore, the query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has found.
The earnings from freight, however, have continued to hold ground with a Rs 5,873.64-crore jump in the second quarter from the first quarter.
The first three months of financial year 2020-21, when the railways had to suspend all its passenger services due to the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions, its revenue was over Rs 1,066 crore in the negative — Rs 531.12 crore in April, Rs 145.24 crore in May and Rs 390.6 in June (all in negative) — according to the RTI reply given by the national transporter to Chandra Shekhar Gaur, a Madhya Pradesh-based activist.
An official explained that due to the suspension of services, refunds were offered for the tickets booked for travel in April, May and June, while in any case, fewer tickets were booked in these three months due to the restrictions.
However, the introduction of more than 800 trains in phases has resulted in revenue generation — Rs 560.99 crore in July, Rs 830.55 crore in August and Rs 934.16 crore in September.
While the total earning in the passenger segment in the second quarter of 2020-21 is Rs 2,325.7 crore, the amount for the year so far is considerably less due to the negative earnings in the first quarter.
“At the end of the second quarter of the current fiscal, revenue earned by Indian Railways from passenger fare and goods business is as under: Rs 1,258.74 crore in passenger segment and Rs 49,347.62 crore in freight,” the reply to the RTI query stated.
The railways earned Rs 8,824.29 crore from freight in July, Rs 9,086.74 crore in August and Rs 9,699.60 crore in September.
In the 2019-20 fiscal, the national transporter had earned Rs 26,642.73 crore in the passenger segment till September and Rs 54,232.05 crore from goods.
The railways has said due to the pandemic, it is envisaging a loss of around Rs 40,000 crore this financial year.
It has also suffered losses to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore in the running of the Shramik Special trains, which began operations from May 1 to ferry stranded migrant workers home.
The railways has cancelled all regular passenger services indefinitely.