After multiple media outlets reported that at least 40 percent of train seats on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route remain vacant, citing a response to an RTI query, Western Railway (WR) clarified that trains on the route are actually overbooked.
WR issued the clarification on Wednesday evening, a day after RTI activist published the findings of his RTI query about occupancy on the route. It further stated that the route was among the most profitable for the division, contrary to the earlier claim.
In RTI replies provided to activist Anil Galgali, WR’s Chief Commercial Manager Manjit Singh had given detailed figures of the seats going vacant on this sector resulting in losses of almost Rs 30 crore between July-September 2017.
However, now CPRO Ravinder Bhakar said that there are nine direct trains and 25 other trains going via Ahmedabad and the total earnings on this sector during that period was Rs 233 crore, against the losses of nearly Rs 30 crore as per the RTI replies, which pertained to number of passengers travelling between Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad and vice-versa.
“The information does not include information about en route traffic, passengers from originating station to en route stations, intermediate stations to intermediate and to destination stations between Mumbai Central and Ahmedabad, thereby showing lesser occupancy,” Bhakar said.
Despite the July-September period being a lean season, he said the occupancy on this sector remained 100 percent plus on all the 34 trains.
Of the nine direct trains, there were 803,150 berths of which actual bookings were 830,978, or 103 percent occupancy Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector and in return direction, the position remained the same.
Besides, in the 25 trains going via Ahmedabad, the berth availability was 1,070,710 and actual bookings were 1,230,585, or 115 percent and in return direction, it was even higher at 121 percent.
Asked to comment, RTI activist Galgali said it is very strange that the specific RTI query between Ahmedabad-Mumbai, which implied all stations enroute, the number of passengers and revenue records and appropriate information should have been provided.
Moreover, he said in the data given under RTI, details of all classes were provided but now that is not available. The RTI reply said that on the 32 trains on Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector, there were 735,630 seats and on 31 trains on Ahmedabad-Mumbai sector, there were 706,446 seats.
“Now, the WR is saying the total number of seats on this sector on 34 trains is much higher. Why the huge discrepancy in the figures given by the WR Chief Commercial Manager under RTI and the WR spokesperson?” Galgali said.
Under these circumstances, if the replies provided under RTI are wrong, then WR should initiate stringent action against the persons concerned and Railway Ministry must issue a detailed White Paper on the occupancy and revenue status on the sector, he said.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route has gained more significance in the recent past in the wake of the upcoming Rs 1 lakh crore Bullet Train project.
The underwhelming statistics about occupancy on the route, published yesterday, had therefore led many to question the viability of the project.
— Western Railway (@WesternRly) November 1, 2017
With IANS inputs