MUMBAI: A record of the seat occupancy on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail route has shown only 60 percent occupancy over past quarter, posing a serious question on the viability of the Bullet train project between the two cities.
The record for the past quarter on seat occupancy in 32 trains of various types plying between Mumbai and Ahmedabad was sought through various RTI queries.
The outcome shows that as many as 40 percent seats are vacant on Ahmedabad bound trains, while the occupancy further decreases on Mumbai bound trains which are roughly 44 percent vacant, said RTI activist Anil Galgali.
“I had sought information on occupancy and revenue from various trains on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. The information provided by Manjeet Singh, the chief commercial manager of the Western Railway in reply to my queries show that between July 1, 2017, and September 30, 2017 of the 7,35,630 seats on 32 mail/express trains going from Mumbai to Ahmedabad only 4,41,795 seats had got booked. This brought down the revenue from expected Rs 44,29,08,220 to actual Rs 30,16,24,623. This amounts to a loss of Rs 14.12 crore. Similarly, the data on Ahmedabad-Mumbai route for the same time period shows an accumulated loss of Rs 15.78 crore,” Galgali said.
“If the existing capacity of the rail network is so much under-utilized that causes loss of over Rs 29 crore only in one quarter, it raises serious questions over the commercial viability of the Bullet train project that would cost billions,” he added.
Galgali also has an analysis of the occupancy of executive chair car of the Shatabdi train between the two cities. This class is the costliest and the train is the fastest of the existing trains. But, here too the occupancy is very low. While it is just below 50 percent on Ahmedabad bound route, it slips further nearing 30 percent on Mumbai bound route of the same train, he pointed out.
Galgali also points out that the maximum load of passengers on the Mumbai-Ahmadebad route is for sleeper class seats and the upper-class seats are going vacant and the occupancy ratio is very poor.