GUWAHATI, March 17 - Along with sectors like aviation, tourism and hospitality, the coronavirus pandemic has also adversely affected the passenger traffic of the Indian Railways.
Highly placed sources told The Assam Tribune that the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone has witnessed a 30 per cent fall in passenger traffic during recent days and the rate of ticket cancellation has also increased substantially.
�If you compare year-on-year, the passenger numbers in our zone during the last three to four days have fallen by up to 30 per cent as against the comparative figures at this time last year. In addition, the ticket cancellation rate for long-distance trains has reached an average of almost 50 per cent,� said a senior NFR official.
NFR today announced cancellation of services of the 12086/12085 Dibrugarh-Guwahati-Dibrugarh Shatabdi Express and the 12088/12087 Guwahati-Naharlagun-Guwahati Shatabdi Express from March 20 to 31. �In addition, we have cancelled the Dibrugarh-Murkongselek Intercity from today. Both local and long-distance trains have been affected as passengers are not keen to undertake non-essential trips,� said the official.
He said revenue and earnings of the NFR from passenger traffic are expected to witness a hit during the last quarter of this fiscal due to coronavirus. �This will definitely affect the annual performance with regard to volume of passenger traffic and earnings from the segment, at least to some extent. The zone had performed well in these parameters during the first 11 months of the fiscal, before the coronavirus epidemic struck,� the official added.
He further said, �Many people who were planning vacations after the exam season have cancelled bookings. Similarly, the inflow of tourists has also been hit during the past three-four days. As such, we expect passenger traffic to remain subdued compared to the normal time, at least till the coronavirus situation stabilises.�
Sources added that there are no plans to cancel any more trains as of now.
�We are monitoring the situation and will decide upon how to proceed depending on the situation,� said the railway official. It is noteworthy that NFR has taken a number of initiatives to prevent spread of coronavirus, including disinfecting coaches and other railway premises regularly, besides undertaking public awareness programmes.