Logistics

Covid-19 puts railway bookings off the track

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on April 03, 2020 Published on April 03, 2020

Fear of the novel coronavirus pandemic appears to have gripped people strongly enough to deter them from booking tickets for train travel onwards of April 15, shows train travel booking data.

For April 15, the day after three weeks of countrywide lockdown is supposed to end, the typical “rush” in previous years around this time is missing this year. While accurate data is not yet available, rough calculations show that in early April, daily bookings may have shrunk to over one-seventh of daily bookings made last year.

In a departure from the usual trend of long wait-list queues for train, tickets are available in most of the pricey and all the air-conditioned trains like Rajdhani Express between Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata, Tejas Express between Delhi and Lucknow, and Shatabdi Express between Delhi-Chandigarh. (Few exceptions are Sealdah Rajdhani where tickets have gone into Reservation After Cancellation zone.)

Rather, trains that are relatively cheaper — with a mix of AC and non-AC coaches — are finding some takers. Only people stranded in different locations due to the sudden shutdown of passenger train services are planning their travel now, said an official.

“Even people from lower economic strata appear to be scared of the pandemic and people, it seems, are saving while travelling, anticipating tough times ahead,” he added.

Over the last few days, several train passengers (with or without symptoms) tested positive for Covid-19, prompting railway officials to track other travellers asking them to self-quarantine.

‘Missing passengers’

Indian Railways passenger booking data which reflects train ticket booking patterns of those who would travel over the next four months show similar trends. On April 2, tickets were booked for 1.85 lakh passengers, which is a small fraction of the average 15 lakh odd tickets that Railways booked everyday in April 2019.

This ‘missing passengers’ trend started building up in early March, before the Indian Railways passenger services had shut services. By this time Covid-19 scare had caught on globally, and some States had already started taking steps towards partial lockdown.

Even before the shutdown of Railways’ passenger services was announced, several ticket counters of the Indian Railways started facing cash-crunch, officials told BusinessLine. In many places ticket counters ran out of cash as cancellations surged and bookings lowered. And, Railways had to take special steps to make available cash in those counters, multiple officials said.

Published on April 03, 2020

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.