Many people are still hesitant to travel by train due to fear of the coronavirus, Western Railway general manager Alok Kansal said.

The Western Railway faces an annual revenue loss of around ₹ 5,000 crore due to the COVID-19 crisis which has affected services and led to a drop in the number of train travelers, a senior official said.

Many people are still hesitant to travel by train due to fear of the coronavirus, Western Railway general manager Alok Kansal told reporters in Indore on Tuesday.

“We are suffering an annual loss of revenue of ₹ 5,000 crore in the coaching train (passenger train) segment due to the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

Among the trains currently operated by the WR, some are operating with only 10% occupancy, he said.

Mr Kansal said that before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Western Railway operated around 300 passenger trains. But the government shut down passenger trains across the country in March last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He said passenger train operations are now back on track and that should improve Western Railway revenue.

“Over the past 11 months, the Western Railway has gradually restarted 145 of its 300 passenger trains … approximately 50% of our passenger trains have been resumed,” he said.

In the next seven days, the WR will restart six more passenger trains in Madhya Pradesh, he said.

Mr. Kansal clarified that the Western Railway currently manages its passenger trains as special trains under COVID-19 guidelines, and only passengers with reserved tickets are allowed to travel.

During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, the WR ran 1,234 special Shramik trains from May 1 to May 31 to carry around 19 lakh to their destinations in different states, he added.

Mr. Kansal was a deputy for an inspection of the Indore-Dewas-Ujjain-Ratlam section of the railways.

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