CHENNAI:Southern Railway neither increased fares nor launched new trains and still earned Rs 227.54 crore more from passenger ticket sales in the 2017-18 financial year, compared to the previous year. How? Through clever ‘rebranding’.
Official records accessed by The Sunday Standard reveal that Southern Railway used three strategies. First, it earmarked more seats for premium tatkal. Second, it converted existing trains into Suvidha trains — a new brand created by NDA government that charges nearly three times the fare of normal services but offers virtually the same services as some other trains. Third, it converted regular express trains into superfast express trains and in some trains converted unreserved coaches into reserved coaches. Unsurprisingly, over 98 per cent or Rs 225.67 crore of the additional revenue was earned from reserved passengers.
The Southern Railway has seen a total of 44.7 lakh more reserved passengers travelling last year. But many new tracks laid in Tamil Nadu were underutilised because not many new trains were introduced. According to the official records, the Southern Railway passenger earnings stood at Rs 5060.35 crore in 2017-18. This is around a 4.6 per cent hike from previous year’s earning of Rs 4832.81 crore.
While demand has remained high across Tamil Nadu, instead of adding new regular trains, Southern Railway has adopted “back-door” and “exploitative” techniques to augment its revenue, rued regular passengers.
Official records revealed the Southern Railway earned Rs 106.24 crore for 2017-18 operating a total of 1,696 Suvidha trains and special fare services. The earnings from such special trains in 2016-17 were much lower at Rs 76.35 crore.