Spike in unreserved rail passengers as migrant workers move out of cities

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 26, 2021

Reserved railway travel sees drastic decline

In an indication of migrant workers leaving cities, the average unreserved passengers has increased to 7 lakh in the first week of April, compared with 5.5 lakh in the first week of March. In contrast, reserved railway travel has declined drastically, according to data from railways’ non-suburban unreserved passenger ticketing system.

The March 2020 nation-wide lockdown led to a massive migrant exodus. This time, even though there are no nationwide restrictions, the increasing number of cases prompted States to announce localised restrictions and curfews in different forms.

“Passenger rail travel through the unreserved mode, used as a proxy for data of migrant flows, indicates increased activity in April compared with March, indicating reverse flow of migrants following the announcements of localised lockdowns,” said a Crisil report.

“However, one may need to discount the element of seasonality in data as with the onset of summer migrants typically tend to return to rural areas for farm-related works. However, similar to last year, announcements of restrictions are expected to have driven this number somewhat higher. Similar data seen for reserved tickets shows a decline suggesting the impact of travel restrictions,” it added.

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A year-on-year comparison is not possible because of the unavailability of data. Railway freight movement of major inputs, such as coal, iron, and steel, has remained relatively steady. It recorded a slight decline towards the beginning of April (an annual feature as year-end activities saw an increase in volumes in March and then dipped in April), but has recovered since then. “This indicates that on an overall level, the impact of the second Covid-19 wave on industrial activities thus far remains small,” said Crisil.

Published on April 26, 2021

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