Suburban passengers travel in large numbers in India's metros, especially in Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi, but how much do they pay to commute? A statement released by Central Railway showed that it carried 74 suburban passengers in Mumbai between April and September this year and earned Rs. 424 crore in the process. In other words, a paltry Rs. 5.72 from each passenger.
Mumbai-headquartered Central Railway published the details in a statement on Wednesday.
"Central Railway registered an increase of 2% in suburban passengers in the first half of the financial year 2016-17. It carried 741.08 million (74.10 crore) suburban passengers in April to September 2016 as against 726.61 million (72.66 crore) suburban passengers during the same period last year," it said.
"The earnings of Rs.414.17 crore achieved in 2015-16 (April to September) increased by 2.39% to Rs.424.08 crore in 2016-17 for the same period on this account," it added.
For the five-month period ended August 2016, Central Railway earned Rs. 352.80 crore from 61.4 crore passengers, translating into earnings of Rs. 5.74 per passenger.
The other suburban network in Mumbai — Western Railway — ferried 51 crore passengers Rs. 300 crore, or Rs. 5.88 per passenger. Western Railway actually saw a marginal drop of 0.14 percent in its revenues when compared to Rs. 301.24 crore earned during April-September 2015 last year, according to an analysis done by Infracircle.
Other suburban services, in Eastern Railway and Southern Railway, carry less passengers and consequently earn lesser than their Mumbai counterparts, though the revenue per passenger is not different.
The railways earned Rs. 45,376 crore from passenger traffic in 2015-16, lower than the budget estimates and the target for the current fiscal has been fixed as Rs. 51,012 crore.
The department is facing stiff competition from both road transport and low-cost air carriers.
"Over a period of time, we are seeing a drop in the traffic because roads have become more convenient for people for short distance. For the high-end travellers, air has become a better option because low-cost airlines have come in," Prabhu told news website VCCircle in May this year.