Mumbai: Railways see low crowd, high cancellations

Updated: 13 March, 2020 16:42 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

As per official data, there has been a stark rise in cancellation of long-distance train journey tickets

The usually jam-packed CSMT had very low crowd at 5.30 pm and 7 pm on Thursday
The usually jam-packed CSMT had very low crowd at 5.30 pm and 7 pm on Thursday

Is there thinning of crowds on Mumbai's local trains and cancellations reported on planned journeys? Yes and it is the railway statistics over the past few days that itself is proving so. The railways have been reporting increased cancellations and giving out refunds.

While suburban traffic on Central Railway has shown a significant dip from 4.65 million passengers per day in January 2020, the numbers went down further to 4.46 million in February 2020 (the month Corona Virus started making impact in India) and till March 10, the average passenger count has gone down to 4.22 million per day.

A test drive by mid-day with photographs taken at the city's biggest railway terminus Mumbai CSMT station during evening rush hours at 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm did show the thinning of crowds at the station.

It seems people also have been frantically cancelling their long distance train tickets booked for vacations too. As per official statistics, between March 4 and March 11, 2019, about 73,661 passengers had booked tickets with 10,635 cancellations reported but in 2020 during the same period, the cancellations have gone up. While 66,980 passengers had booked tickets between March 4 to 11, 2020, there have been 14,587 cancellations, which means lesser bookings but more cancellations with a rise of over 4,000 over last year's figures.

While the thinning of crowds on suburban trains has been noticeable for the past two days, railway officials said that it will not reflect immediately reflect in daily ticket statistics as more than 80 pc suburban passengers use season tickets.

Hence the average sale of suburban tickets on Western Railway's Mumbai suburban railway does not show immedaite reflection though it dipped from 7,5,0828 on March 9 to 5,2,7342 on March 10 due to Holi holiday, it stood up again to 7,78,282 tickets.

There has been about 18 pc rise in cancellation of tickets of outstation trains on Western Railway as compared to that of last year. WR statisics reveal that between March 1 and March 11, 2019, while there were 3,98,053 ticket cancellations, between the same period this year, the ticket cancellations have gone up to 4,73,213 a rise of 75,160 cancellations.

Ticket bookings for the vacation season coming ahead are also seeing cancellations. As per the statistics available on Western Railway between April 15 to June 15 this year, there have been significant cancellations on each train with over 2,000 cancellations on Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express alone followed by other trains.

While officially there are no reasons given for the cancellations, the railways say that the numbers are on the rise and the railways have been refunding money as per rules.

Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) said they were postponing their international travel packages to October and beyond that.

Central Railway chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said Central Railway has geared up its entire machinery in a big way to take comprehensive measures on prevention of Corona COVID 19 virus infection. "All medical in-charges of hospitals have been advised to be in constant touch with the respective State Authorities to obtain the guidelines/updates issued on the subject and take necessary detection, prevention & curative measures suggested by such State Authorities.

Station staff have been sensitized about corona virus (COVID-19) for necessary action immediately," Sutar said.

Western Railway chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar said, "Western Railway has also made arrangements for Quarantine facilities all over the Western Zone with a capacity of 1005 beds. In order to spread awareness on corona; educative posters on Dos & DONTs has been displayed at prominent locations across all station premises & inside trains, audio and video clips are being played through the Central announcements on Public Address System as well as LED & TV screens."

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First Published: 13 March, 2020 07:20 IST

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