Festive rush hour: no space on trains, roads

HYDERABAD: For many people, Sankranthi means homecoming, which, in turn, means the rush on trains multiplies manifold. So, in the runup to the festival, most trains, particularly those heading to Andhra Pradesh, are witnessing a surge in passengers.

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The surge in bookings this year has been so high compared to last year that most of the trains are either reporting no room or have long waiting lists of passengers. While last year, SCR operated 138 special trains for Sankranthi, this time the number of special services, including unreserved trains, stands at 203.

Many special trains for the festival were announced two weeks ago. Since then, if officials at reservation counters are to be believed, waiting lists have crossed the 100 mark. To counter this rush, in the unreserved category, South Central Railway (SCR) has introduced 60 additional rakes of Jana Sadharan trains from January 11.

Fares for these special trains, leaving from Hyderabad and Secunderabad, for Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Kakinada Town and Vizianagaram, are about 50% cheaper than private and government-operated buses. As a result, even these additional trains may prove to be inadequate to cater to the surge in passenger demands for seats.

“Provision for seats, exclusively for women, in the unreserved coaches have shot up demands for tickets on Jana Sadharan trains. About 1.2 lakh passengers are likely to use these additional services. These will add around ₹1.8 crore to ₹2 crore to the railway coffers,” said a senior railway official.

In the reserved segment, SCR is running 143 trains for Sankranthi, of which 28 are Suvidha specials and 113 special services are being run on tatkal fares.

In a record number of bookings under SCR during Sankranthi, above 90% of seats in all Suvidha special trains have already been occupied in the first week of January, adding around ₹3.2 crore in the railway coffers.

Apart from this, revenues from reservations on 113 special trains have touched ₹5.1 crore, while two Humsafar express trains plying between Secunderabad and Vijayawada have fetched the railways ₹30 lakh so far.

“The fare on unreserved trains between Secunderabad and Vijayawada is ₹120, while bus operators are demanding 2-3 more. However, it is difficult to travel on jampacked trains with families, especially children,” said Rajesh Pitla, a commuter and native of Vijayawada.

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