In 2016, passenger traffic and revenue for November alone made up 13 per cent of the suburban passenger traffic and earnings during the April-November period, according to official data.
The data includes passenger traffic and revenue figures of both Central Railway and Western Railway.
Railway officials attributed the reason to the spurt in sale of season tickets across suburban railway counters following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on November 8. In that month alone, 24 crore passengers travelled on the suburban route, contributing Rs 146 crore in revenue out of the Rs 1,096.11 crore earned by the railways carrying 189.5 crore passengers in the eight-month period.
“On an average, monthly passenger and revenue data usually makes up 8 per cent of the annual data. A spurt could be because of festive occasions like Holi and Diwali. On the other hand, monthly figures often dip during the monsoon and school vacations. A figure of over 10 per cent is rare and is certainly because of the demonetisation,” said a senior railway official.
“Thirteen per cent is quite an impressive figure. Many commuters actually parked their old notes in buying yearly tickets,” said another official. A similar surge in monthly revenue was witnessed in 2014 when a hike of 14 per cent for first- and second-class season tickets was announced. Commuters had rushed to buy season tickets in July 2014 before the hike was implemented, contributing more than 13 per cent to yearly passenger traffic.
There was also a 100 per cent growth in the number of commuters who travelled during November 2016 in comparison to corresponding figures the year before. A 30.92 per cent rise was also witnessed in suburban earnings during November last year against the 2015 figure.
“Such factors are solely guided by passenger behaviour. While external factors like season time or, in this case, demonetisation also affects the trend, how much is bought and especially for which class has a larger impact. November also saw a steep increase in sale of first-class tickets,” said a senior railway official. Suburban commute also grew by 7 per cent during April-November 2016 in comparison to the same period in 2015.