Even though the Covid-induced nationwide lockdown brought to a halt the operations of all passenger, mail and express trains, the national transporter will meet its operating expenses from its earnings, Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav said.
He was commenting on the health of the beleaguered railways which so far has incurred a 87 per cent loss in passenger revenue in 2020 as compared to last year.
Addressing a year-end virtual press conference here, Yadav said that several expenditure control measures and the earnings from carrying freight will help compensate for the revenue loss from the passenger segment.
“Indian Railways has so far incurred 87 per cent loss in passenger revenue, down from Rs 53,000 crore last year to just Rs 4,600 crore, owing to the Covid pandemic,” he said.
Yadav said that it expects an increase in freight loading revenue, compensated by the enhanced transportation of non-traditional commodities like foodgrains and fertilisers.
“Railways has so far spent 12 per cent less than last year. We have controlled our expenditure and since few trains are not operating we are saving on fuel and inventory. Despite Covid-19, we will meet our operating expenditure from our revenue, ” Yadav said.
“We have almost surpassed both freight loading and freight revenue of last year. So, this year’s revenue would be more than last year’s from freight,” he said.
Yadav stated that the national transporter’s biggest achievements this year were that it managed to maintain the supply line of essential commodities, ferried more than 63 lakh migrant workers home in Shramik Special trains and also managed to convert challenges into opportunities and cleared the backlog of all maintenance and safety work.
Giving details of the 508 km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed rail popularly known as the bullet train project, Yadav said that the Maharashtra government has assured the Railways that the remaining land will be provided for the bullet train project in the next four months.
“Once that is done, we can start work on the entire line and then bullet train from both the states can be commissioned together. We will get the full picture over the next four months and then decide if the commissioning will be done in phases or at once. However, if the Maharashtra land acquisition is delayed, then a 325 km stretch till Vapi will be commissioned. The decision will be taken in four months,” he said.
He said that till date, 68 per cent land has been acquired for the project.