GUWAHATI, July 30 - The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has impacted the earnings of the Railways. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) registered a slump of over 76 per cent year-on-year in its overall earnings during the first quarter of the ongoing financial year.
The zone witnessed a big drop in its earnings from the goods, �sundry� and the �other coaching� segments, even as it registered a loss in revenue from the passenger segment during the April-June quarter.
During the first three months of 2020-21, NFR�s total approximate gross earnings on originating basis stood at only Rs 226.53 crore as against Rs 964.99 crore during the same period last fiscal. This is an annual fall of 76.53 per cent.
The impact of the prolonged cancellation of regular passenger services was visible in numbers for the segment.
The NFR registered a loss of Rs 11.35 crore in actual value from passenger traffic during the quarter under review. It had recorded gross earnings on originating basis worth Rs 474.23 crore during the year-ago period from the segment.
Goods earnings on originating basis of the Maligaon-headquartered zone went down by 47.41 per cent on an annual basis to Rs 204.70 crore in the quarter ended June 30 this year, compared to Rs 389.22 crore in the same period of last fiscal.
Likewise, the NFR�s sundry earnings registered a year-on-year decrease of 35 cent and fell to Rs 23.31 crore in the first quarter, as against Rs 35.86 crore in the April-June period of last fiscal.
Similarly, earnings from �other coaching� plummeted by as much as 84.97 per cent in the first quarter of 2020-21 to a mere Rs 9.87 crore compared to Rs 65.68 crore in the same period of 2019-20.
It is noteworthy that the pandemic and the resultant economic slowdown had its impact across the entire railway network. All other zones of the Indian Railways also registered steep decreases on an annual basis in their earnings during the first quarter.
Commenting on the numbers, a senior official said, �Regular passenger services have remained cancelled across the country since the beginning of the first nationwide lockdown in late March. Since then, we have only operated Shramik Special trains to transport the stranded people and now we are running a few pairs of �Passenger Specials�.�
Asked about goods and other segments, he said that the overall slump in the national economy has resulted in curtailment of demand for most commodities, barring essential items.
�However, we have been operating freight services round-the-clock to ensure uninterrupted supply of basic essentials to citizens. During crises like this, factors like profit and earnings take a back stage. We, as a public sector service provider, are more interested in seeing to it that needs of the citizens are taken care of,� said the official.
He added, �In June, we noticed a major increase in transportation by freight services. Going ahead, we expect better results from that segment in the second quarter of this financial year. However, the passenger segment is unlikely to show a similar trend in the immediate future as there is lot of uncertainty due to the pandemic.�
Regular passenger services across the Indian Railways network have been cancelled till August 12. Even after that date, services are expected to be restored only in a staggered manner.
Meanwhile, the total approximate gross earnings of the Indian Railways on originating basis also registered a big dip of over 52 per cent on an annual basis and stood at just over Rs 21,560 crore during the quarter ended June 30 this year.