These trains with air-conditioned chair cars connect major Indian cities and complete a to-and-fro journey between two destinations the same day.
With an aim to increase operational efficiency of passenger rakes, Indian Railways is planning to reduce the number of coaches of some Shatabdi trains with low occupancy, and utilise layover time of around 100 trains to connect more destinations. According to a railway ministry official, some Shabtabdis — such as New Delhi-Moga which has been operational for around five years now — see about 50% occupancy. The number of coaches in these trains will be reduced to six from 12. “Some of the Shatabdis which are less patronised are being reviewed and will be reduced in size. More trains will be run by taking out stock from these trains. However, most of mainline Shatabdis are doing well,” the official said. The Jaipur-Agra Fort Shatabdi connecting two major tourist destinations of north India will be suspended from May 1, 2018. Shatabdis belong to the super-fast express train category. These trains with air-conditioned chair cars connect major Indian cities and complete a to-and-fro journey between two destinations the same day.
As reported by FE earlier, the transporter has already experimented with reducing Shatabdi fares in certain sections – especially between non-originating and non-terminating stations – which were facing low occupancy due to competitive fares offered by air-conditioned bus service providers in the same stretches. However, there has been negligible improvement in occupancy levels. Simultaneously, the railways will soon extend routes of 100 trains by utilising the time spent idle before starting the return journey. FE earlier reported that the railways has already extended routes of 40 trains. There are two types of layover time in railways — first, a train reaches its terminal station and undergoes maintenance before returning to its originating station, and second, wherein it does not undergo maintenance but waits for its slot to return to the originating station. The extension of routes does not affect the timing of the train on the original route.
“We have liberalised rakes in existing service to start new services. Some trains reach in the morning at a destination and remained parked till evening before resuming return journey. Now, we run some of them to connect other popular destinations during the layover time,” the official said.
A case in point is the Gatimaan Express, the country’s fastest train with a top speed of 160 km per hour. The train was initially planned between New Delhi and Agra. While the initial patronisation was 69%, it increased to 79% once it was extended till Gwalior. Starting April 1, 2018, the train will run up till Jhansi though its running time schedule between New Delhi and Agra will remain the same.
The national transporter has announced 9,000 new trains to cater to the summer rush. According to the official quoted above, as financial draws to a close, the railways is hopeful of generating Rs 10,000 crore of incremental revenue. Of this, Rs 2,000 crore will come from the passenger segment with around 5.4 crore additional number of commuters. Around Rs 8,000 crore will come from freight. The figure of Rs 10,000 crore is over and above the revised combined target of Rs 1.67 lakh crore for 2017-18 from the two revenue streams.