Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How does the railway make more money?

The Indian Railways are making money. Thanks to Laloo(?). There have been suggestions on other blogs that letting executives in the railways do their work has resulted in the turn around. Perhaps Laloo did just that, stayed away without meddling much.

But, there have been some very interesting changes, not discussed in the media that may have resulted in increased revenues. I came across these on various other blogs, but I do not have all the links now.

The railways introduced a ‘cut’ when canceling waitlisted tickets. What was the rationale behind this, I do not know, but it has allowed the railways to collect more money that way. This helps apart from overloading the coaches with the waitlisted passengers traveling sleeping on the floors or standing by the doors. Besides, short distance travelers often buy a general coach ticket & travel in sleeper class (‘kindly adjust’, is their request).

The number of tatkal berths, per coach, have been increased. They now account for a third of the number of berths in a coach. And you have to pay fare for the journey of the train, not your destinations. This definitely is a big increase in revenue.

Increase in freight charge allows for more inflow of money. Road transport costs are increasing & the railways are a good alternative.

And let’s not forget, Indian Railways is a monopoly, so we haven’t much choice, but to pay the prescribed fare, whatever it is. However, passenger fares have been reduced. Amidst all these changes, what has not changed is the quality of coaches & stations. This continues to be the same. All the latest efforts to bring technology to railways are appreciable, but, safe, clean & peaceful journey should be the priority. If you are traveling by sleeper class, there’s just no escape from the various hawkers, eunuchs, beggers, shoe polishers, tea/coffee vendors, magazine sellers etc. Peaceful, undisturbed journey is impossible.

It is indeed appreciable that the railways have become profitable putting less burden on the govt. treasury. But, some blogs suggest looking at accounting practices followed in reporting the rail revenues. Let the passenger decide if the railways have improved.

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