April 3, 2021 8:31:24 am
NEARLY THREE months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off rail routes connecting the Statue of Unity in Kevadia in Narmada district to Vadodara and Ahmedabad cities — apart from trains connecting the new tourist spot with six states of the country — the railways have indefinitely suspended service of the Memu train running to and fro between Kevadia and Pratapnagar in Vadodara as well as the weekly Ahmedabad Janshatabdi which arrives and departs from Kevadia every Monday.
Railway officials said the trains were running despite losses as only a handful of passengers booked tickets compared to the capacity of both the trains.
“The trains were making severe loss. We had eight coaches in the Memu train between Pratapnagar to Kevadia and the Janshatabdi has one vista dome coach and around six coaches. There have been no commuters right since the beginning. But now, with the Covid-19 graph rising, the ratio has plunged and it is difficult to even recover the cost of the running,” Vadodara Division Railway PRO Khemraj Meena said.
Meena added that while the railways observed low occupancy even when the trains were flagged off in January, the first step was to reduce the size of the trains.
“For the Memu, we first reduced the frequency from three daily round trips to one round trip per day. Then we reduced the number of coaches from eight to four. But there were days and trips in which only two passengers travelled. This is unsustainable at the moment. We believe that owing to the pandemic, there are barely any commuters… For the moment, we have suspended the train until a further decision is taken.”
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