This festive season, the railways plan to grab a larger share of the seasonal passenger-traffic pie with 30 per cent more trains than last year.
Launching additional trains is a move to accommodate a swelling clientele. From April to August this year, there has been 18 million (1.8 crore) more passenger-bookings than in the same period last year.
Sensing big bucks, the railways are launching 1,300 special, trains in the coming days, as opposed to 1,080 last season.
The trains connect various parts of the Northern Railway network — mainly Delhi — with the rest of the country.
Estimates of an additional rush of passengers, officials said, arises from two factors: rising domestic airfares and faster trains in short-distance travels.
“The smaller sectors between Delhi and a host of short destinations like Uttaranchal, Punjab, and Lucknow have generated between 10 and 18 per cent more business than previous year,” Vivek Sahai, Northern Railway general manager told HT.
Airfares for the domestic sectors, meanwhile, have spiralled in the same period, more so for the non-popular routes between metros and smaller cities/towns.
“Faster trains with convenient timings make trains a more value-for-money transport option over other modes (of transport),” he said.
Every year the Durga Puja/Dussera/Diwali season sets cash registers ringing for transport service providers —from airlines to railways —thanks to domestic tourism, and a huge share of homebound migrant workforce travelling mainly from large cities to smaller towns.
But figures show that Northern Railway has gained most from this rush, compared to other zonal railways, clocking a 6.6 per cent increase in revenue earnings, against a national average of just 1.6 per cent.
“With most of the ‘Duronto’ trains serving Delhi, earnings are set to go through the roof,” said a senior railway official. The Duronto is modelled around the Rajdhani Express, only a couple of hours faster and includes a special class which is Rs 200 cheaper than Rajdhani. Two Durontos linking Delhi with Chennai and Sealdah are launching on Friday.