According to the Indian Railways response to an RTI query, 40% seats went empty on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train route in the three-month period (July 1 to September 30), amounting to a loss of Rs 29.91 crore (Rs 10 crore loss per month), reported NDTV.
This was the route chosen by the Prime Minister Modi-led government to build the country’s first bullet train project with the help of Japan. It will cost India Rs 1,10,000 crore.
The RTI was filed by Mumbai-based activist Anil Galgali. Thirty-two Mail and Express trains between Mumbai to Ahmedabad have been incurring a loss of Rs 14 crore and 31 trains from Mumbai to Ahmedabad have made losses of Rs 15 crore.
“The Indian government is over-enthusiastic and plans to spend more than Rs 1 lakh crore on the Bullet Train project, but it has not done its homework properly,” Galgali said, reported Business Standard.
Even the most preferred train on the route, 12009 Shatabdi – a chair car, also managed to sell only half of its seats over the last three months, according to the Ahmedabad division.
The data showed that the maximum passengers are travelling sleeper class seats, while many upper-class seats are going vacant. The Indian Railways have admitted that they have no plans to introduce any new trains on this sector which is already red.
The Logical Indian take
For 2017-18, the total capital and development expenditure of the Indian Railways has been Rs 1,31,000 crore, of which, the Central government owes Rs 55,000 crore.
After the government’s Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe had said that the country will increase its investment into Gujarat from the present $1 billion to $3 billion. This project will also be based on Japan’s high-speed train technology and will cost the Indian government Rs 1.08 trillion, of which, 80% is being provided by Japan as soft loan.
The fare structure of the bullet train is expected to be anywhere between Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000, in contrast with the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route fare range of Rs 1,800 to Rs 3,000.
The Logical Indian community is all for development but not an irresponsible one. These projects come at a time when the Indian Railways is surrounded by criticism of multiple train derailments. That India does not have enough tracks for its trains, is a reality. When old tracks need to be repaired and the Railways is in a financial crunch, where does the government’s priorities lie?
Critics of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project say that the enormous amount of money spent on it could have rather been invested in projects that would have reached more Indians and not just a certain class of people.