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Covid-19 impact: Railway move to halt operations set to dent IRCTC earnings

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April 14, 2020

The decision by the to stop passenger services further till May 3 is set to wipe out the national transporter’s ticket earnings and a huge share of the Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC’s) revenue through service charge.

The railways on Tuesday said all passenger train services, including premium, mail and express, suburban, Kolkata metro and Konkan Railways will continue to remain cancelled till May 3.

The step was in continuation with the measures taken in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.

For railways, against an average 924,960 tickets a day booked during the first 13 days of April 2019, the daily average stood at a mere 51,175 tickets this year.

As per estimates, around 80 per cent of the tickets booked by the railways is through the online platform.

“For these 40 days of lockdown, our entire revenue is getting wiped out as service charge through ticketing becomes zero. Other revenue streams like catering, Railneer sales and tourism are on a standstill,” said an official.

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During the third quarter of 2019-20, had posted a profit of Rs 716 crore, out of which 32 per cent came from its internet ticketing business. According to estimates, the railways’ arm is likely to lose around Rs 80-100 crore due to the 40 day lockdown.

In 2018-19, the average number of tickets sold through IRCTC website was 7.78 lakh per day. The revenue of internal ticketing segment for the financial year 2018-19 was at Rs 239 crore, up from Rs 204 crore in 2017-18.

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There was a considerable increase in profit in the 2019-20 December quarter as the company restored its service charge this year. Service charge was withdrawn by the ministry of railways after November 2016 to promote digital payment post demonetisation. This was restored to Rs 15 for non-air conditioned classes and Rs 30 for AC classes, starting September 2019.

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For the national transporter as a whole, the daily ticket earnings dropped from Rs 105 crore per day last year to a mere Rs 5.8 crore a day during the first 13 days of the current financial year. A total of 665,269 tickets were booked till April 13 this fiscal year, down 94.47 per cent from 12.02 million during the same time last year. In terms of total passenger numbers, too, there was a considerable drop of 95.36 per cent during the period to 1.03 million.

On Tuesday, the railways said booking of tickets, both online and through counters, will only be done after May 3.

However, cancellations will be available online, for which full refund will be provided. As far as trains cancelled up to May 3 is concerned, the refunds would be done automatically by the railways online. Those who have booked at the counters will get refund by July 31. A statement by the national transporter said to ensure essential supplies in various parts of the country, movement of goods and parcel trains will be continued.

Railways offers full refund of fare

Railways is set to cancel around 3.9 million tickets booked for travel between April 15 and May 3 due to extension of the lockdown and suspension of passenger trains till then, sources told PTI. It said that full refund of fare would automatically be provided to its online customers for trains cancelled up to May 3, while those who have booked at the counters can claim the refund till July 31. PTI

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