Indian Railway passengers dip in the first quarter

The total number of passengers using the Indian Railways dipped slightly to 210 crore during the first three months of the financial year compared to a year ago, numbers from the ministry of railways showed.

Though the dip was minor (0.7%), in terms of number of tickets sold, the difference was nearly 15 million (1.5 crore).

The ministry said the dip may have been caused by the reduction in the booking period from 3 months to 2 months, and due to the overall slowdown in the economy.

The Indian Railways had recently cut the booking period for reserved tickets in an effort to reduce the ‘black marketing’ of railway tickets. Many ‘travel agents’ and touts routinely book tickets under fictitious names, leading to scarcity of available bookings. These tickets are later sold to the highest bidder illegally.

To crack down, the Railways also made it mandatory for all passengers to carry government-approved identification cards, thus making it difficult for passengers to travel under tickets booked under fictitious names.

The Railways is trying to attract more passengers through measures like introduction of new trains, enhancement of the composition of more popular trains, attachment of extra coaches in the existing trains, running of special trains keeping in view the pattern of traffic, commercial justification, operational feasibility, availability of resources etc., the railways said.