A long list of additional train stoppages, mostly cleared after pressure from local MPs, costs the Railways department about Rs 1 crore daily. Now, the cash-strapped ministry has decided to scrap as many as 1,250 such stoppages across the country.
While the ministry has told Parliament that the stoppages are being reviewed, sources confirmed that these will cease to exist by September.
An internal costing exercise done as part of the Rail Budget found that each additional stop was costing the Railways about Rs 8,000 on account of fuel and other operational expenses. On the other hand, the Railways was earning less than Rs 500 per stoppage.
The net revenue loss per year was estimated to add up to a whopping Rs 300 crore. The ministry’s bookkeepers unofficially refer to these stoppages as “silent killers”.
Trains linking Bihar and Kerala are among those which have the highest number of such stoppages. Of the total 2,400 such stoppages, 1,250 have been listed as commercially “unwanted and unaffordable”.
These stoppages were generally approved after MPs cited demand from residents. Most of these MPs have not been re-elected. Many of them had agreed that the stoppage would be cancelled if it did not have the desired effect on ticket sales.
“For many politicians, getting a train to stop at stations of their choice served as a mark of their clout. So if they didn’t get projects or trains or other sops for their constituencies, they asked for at least a stoppage,” said a senior Railways official.
The ministry had asked its zonal chief operations managers to justify the continuance of these stoppages. However, some stoppages which are “socially desirable” despite being commercially unviable will remain.