Ticket data hints at people returning to cities, Railways may start more trains

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Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Published: June 27, 2020 2:59:15 am

Migrants from Kerala at charbagh railway station in Lucknow. Express photo by Vishal Srivastav

As economic activities resume across the country, the data of railway ticket-booking indicates that people may be gradually returning to the big cities from their home states. Trains from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Secunderabad, Bengaluru and other routes of migration have started seeing a rise in passenger numbers.

Based on this trend, more trains are going to be introduced on certain routes, but full-fledged resumption of services may not be possible in the near future, Chairman, Railway Board, V K Yadav told reporters on Friday.

Sources said Railways is in regular consultation with MHA on resumption of train services. MHA sources told The Indian Express that they’ve received a list of around 35 pairs of more trains to be run in the coming days and a decision on this would be taken shortly.
An analysis of the ticket-booking data on IRCTC website shows that the waiting time to get a confirmed ticket on trains leaving Bihar, UP, Odisha, West Bengal for cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune and Surat has increased over the past two weeks.

“The signs are very encouraging. We are seeing high occupancy in reverse direction also, like Gorakhpur to Mumbai. Based on the occupancy patterns on routes, the Covid situation and after consulting with states, we are going to introduce more trains in the near future,” Yadav said.

An analysis by The Indian Express shows that this week, multiple trains from Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and Patna, to places like Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Howrah and Delhi ran with up to 123 per cent occupancy. Also, trains from Varanasi, Lucknow and Gorakhpur to Mumbai and Ahmedabad ran with over 120 per cent capacity.

Railway data show that over the next four days, trains from Gorakhpur, Patna, Danapur, Varanasi, Ranchi and Howrah to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Secunderabad have an overall occupancy ranging from 80 per cent to more than 120 per cent.

There is, however, no plan to run “reverse” Shramik special trains, Yadav said.

Two weeks ago, The Indian Express reported that while trains leaving big cities for eastern states were witnessing a rush, those returning to the cities were running way below capacity. While trains leaving big cities are still heavily occupied, the reverse direction is also witnessing a surge now.

In the second class, the cheapest ticket option on these trains, waiting time to secure a confirmed seat has increased. The second class is now carrying only as many passengers as there are seats in view of the pandemic.

For instance, Gorakhpur-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus special has confirmed second-class tickets only from July 7 and sleeper tickets from July 19.

While 2.4 crore people travelled by trains daily during full-fledged services before the lockdown, about 25 lakh are travelling in a day now. Of the 230 trains running currently, only 78 have an occupancy of more than 100 per cent. Seventy-five trains are running with occupancy between 0-50 per cent, data shows.

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