The Indian Railways (IR) is staring at a loss of Rs 6,000 crore in passenger revenue at a rate of about Rs 140 crore a day due to the 43-day national lockdown, according to an official source. Though its freight receipts have somewhat been insulated during the lockdown, even this larger segment that accounts for 70% of the transporter’s traffic receipts, could see a loss of at least Rs 5,000 crore during the 43-day period.
This would mean that the railways’ overall traffic receipts would be less than the revised estimate set for FY20 by over Rs 2,500 crore (amount corresponding to the 10-day lockdown period for the railways in March).
The transporter has already released some Rs 1,500 crore as refunds for passengers who booked tickets for the lockdown period and soon thereafter, the source added. Even if the lockdown is lifted on May 3, it may take a few more days for the railways to start full-scale operations, especially in the passenger segment.
The additional drain on revenue comes at time when IR’s debt servicing costs are set to rise at a much faster clip starting FY21 and might more than double in five years from now as repayment obligations concerning Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India and the proposed high-speed train network will kick in.