The heavy turnout in general elections is taking a toll on Western Railway (WR). Tickets sales for the first 10 days of the new financial year are seeing a decline as people are moving out of the city to vote in the general elections.WR has recorded a decline of 34 lakh passengers from April 1 -10, 2014, against the corresponding period in 2013. In monetary terms, this translates into a loss of Rs 1.36 crore.
Officials attributes this drop in passengers to the movement of people to the 14 states, where the first phase of polling started on April 10.And there's data to prove this claim.WR has seen a phenomenal 134% rise in the sale of outstation tickets between April 1 and 10, as against last year.
"Despite BEST buses being off roads following an employees strike on April 1 and 2, the rise in card ticket sales was a paltry 3 lakh. Normally, card ticket sales rise substantially in such situations. So, this is a sure-fire indicator that people had gone out of the city. The only new element this year, compared to last year, is the elections," said a senior railway official.
The number of passengers on WR's suburban network, between April 1 and 10 this year, stood at 3.74 crore — a decline of 34 lakh, compared with the 4.08 crore passengers in the same period last year.
Earnings, which stood at Rs 21.12 crore for the period last year, came down by Rs 1.36 crore for the 10-day period in 2014, said officials.For WR officials, it's a worrying sign that the financial year has started on such a bad note. With the state set to go for assembly elections in the second half of year, the dent in ticket sales would see a replay.
"Last year, the unusually high number of Mumbaikars going for summer vacations between May and June and the traders' strike against Local Body Tax between May 6 and 21 ruined WR's ticketing plans. This time, it seems to be the Lok Sabha elections. The assembly polls later will make it far worse," said an official.
As reported first by dna in its April 9 edition, WR's suburban system saw its biggest drop in passengers in 12 years when it finished the financial year 2013-14, carrying 1.38 crore passengers less. In absolute numbers, that was a drop of 38,000 passengers per day.
April 1-10, 2013 Passengers 4.08 crore, Earnings Rs 21.12 crore
April 1-10, 2014 Passengers 3.74 crore, Earnings Rs 19.76 crore
Fall in Passengers - 34 lakh (8.33 per cent) Earnings- Rs 1.36 crore (6.44 per cent)