From a Financially Challenged Person To Indian Railways

I am a financial dud, something I have long accepted. Try hard as I may to  understand taxes, investments, long term plans, yaada  yaada, it still remains Greek and Latin and Finance to me.

RD has given up trying to tell me every now and then,that I need to learn finances. He wants me to operate my own policies, know what we invest, where we invest, how we invest, IF we invest, etc etc…thats something I must accept shamefacedly that I have never tried to learn

Now a days, I try and fill in my own tax forms, though I send it to RD for corrections (Its something else that he finds it just easier to REWORK on the entire thing than give me corrections) but hey I am trying.

Anyways I digress.

The point of this post was the Railway budget.

I was trying to read about it yesterday on various websites. Tell me something, did everyone around know that the railways are running losses. I was shocked to read it honestly.

I mean, look around you people, seriously look around you. How can railways run losses? Tickets are booked like 4 months in advance and by 8.45 AM the trains are running full and you get like 45 waiting list or something.

and then I thought the local trains in Mumbai with their overflowing passengers itself would earn enough to drive the entire railways to high profit. I mean, honestly they run like 1 train in place of 10 (What I mean to say is for the crowd that one train takes, actually 10 trains are required!)

So pretty surprising that the railways are running into losses. Looking at it from a financial dud point of view (thats my point of view) it seems really weird.

For the amount of people who travel daily, I always thought the railways would be continuously earning money like no man’s business. You know like really minting money and putting it into the nation’s coffers.

Apparently thats not the case. The losses are huge.


Again, from a laywoman’s perspective, I think it has got more to do with inefficiency than anything else. We are the world’s second largest country in population, we have people moving from one state to another and we have people like the R family who contribute significantly to the railways by continuously booking and cancelling tickets at the rate of 10/month or something. How the hell are the railways in losses?

and why?

Few pointers for the railways from a laywoman staying in Mumbai

1. Get more efficient. Half your newly introduced systems like the coupon machines and ATM kind dont work. Whats the point of installing machines worth 1000s of rupees and them not working. Then you need people to give out the tickets na. Spend money on maintenance of the machines and not on paying more to ticket sellers, that ways you will save millions

2. Get a good catering contract for long distance trains. Better food variety often prompts bored passengers to  buy food. Have you ever noticed how passengers are ready to buy that nice bhel from a non-railway vendor selling inside the train. Thats because it tastes better. You can get a good caterer and earn that revenue you know.

3. Clean up your toilets and you will get at least 100 people more in the trains which have low passenger ratios. Honestly if you give me clean toilets and clean bed sheets, I would not take the aeroplane and enjoy the train travel

4. Get efficient on timings. I hear we have miles and miles and miles of laid railway tracks. Why not use it efficiently. Try and reduce train travel time. I am sure with a little bit of thought we can adjust timings and reduce travel time. How about getting in some university to do research on it? then you allow the college kids to learn about efficiency AND get it done at 1/10th of the cost you would pay a big consulting firm

5. Similarly get colleges involved as a thesis or something to figure out ways to effectively use railways freight loads and stuff. Trust me nothing better than a fresh mind to look at a problem and come up with brilliant solutions. You give the nation’s youth a problem and they come up with splendid solutions

6. Try and get private companies to invest. May be they will get in the additional money which you dont require actually and also that fresh breath of air required
Does this make sense eh?


About R's Mom

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35 Responses to From a Financially Challenged Person To Indian Railways

  1. Hrishi says:

    I personally don’t mind paying more in train tickets if I get the value for it.

    E.g I commute from Baroda to Ahmedabad every weekend. GSRTC (State Bus) Bus charges start from about 80 Rupees. Train tickets start from 20 for local and 50-55 for express trains. Now the difference is that in bus I get a proper seat, but in trains I will end up sharing a seat of 3 people with 5 or more . Some times I will have to stand and go, or be near the door because the whole bogey is over crowded. Add to that, you only have 2 or so general bogeys and rest are sleeper. So the whole crowd is crunched in those two bogeys. If we increase the bogeys, there will be space for more passengers. Also, when I was in college there was a pilot program in testing double decker trains. I had used one of them, wonder why we don’t have more of those.

    Also, there was a student group from IIT that had as part of their thesis, prepared a working model of how a train toilet can be modified to collect all the poop and urine into a unit, which can be drained at a station and then disposed off via sewage lines. This made train toilets better to use in times like rains and winters. I once was travelling in the north in winters. I had gone to poop, and this really cold wave of wind came up the toilet that I waited to reach home instead.

    • R's Mom says:

      yep I have done the baroda to ahm journey a lot of times and honestly I prefered the train to the bus..despite of getting a seat to sit in the bus..but then again, I am a train person..more than a bus person

      LOL on the waiting to go home 🙂

  2. Wow…you’re a thinker RM! They should really consider hiring you rather than you doling out advice for free! 😛

  3. Sumana says:

    I feel there is one more big scam getting unearthed. How i wonder they don’t make profits?? All the profits are being gulped somewhere. Their day start with around 20 -30 crores per state.

  4. The Bride says:

    Hmmm that many people using it may not guarantee a profit unless the ticket prices and other revenue is sufficient. Similar to how public hospitals might not turn a profit, although many people use it. We forget how many services are subsidized.

    I wonder if it’s possible to turn a profit without raising fares, though maybe your other ideas would help. In Hong Kong the MTR is a private company, though subject to some government controls and aid (mainly in the form of land), and they do turn a profit but it may be from the land they develop on top of the MTR stations. Although the MTR is well priced for the middle class, it is a bit steep for the poor.

    • R's Mom says:

      I agree about the prices being subsidized..and YET I am not able to believe in their claims of losses…but then you may be right..I wont argue on this one since I am not really a great financial person

      Yep look at MTR they are able to do it na…and here India has like 25 times the population, I am sure if we want, we can do it surely

  5. Swaram says:

    The bhel thingy esp. makes perfect sense 😛 That’s one thing I never miss on any of the trains 😉

  6. Prachi says:

    No comments…!!
    I am zero in terms of finance, politics, budgets, loans…*the list goes on*
    THough I would like to add corruption also in this list…people travelling without proper tickets offer bribe to TC and those penalties goes to TC’s pocket instead of railway ministry.

  7. chipmunk says:

    First I was happy you made a note!
    Second its true, no govt institution runs on loss, its only we are claiming it as a loss.
    third there are tatkal ticket and a additional bogie may be attached at times so loss is not a word at all!
    food true, I had worst experience with it. they can improve it on greater extent.
    Its of waste even though with the invent and placing of machine, I can see most of them misusing it and often go and tap it without no use in it, which in turn will come as a blame, that we human did it. which is obviously a truth but, they can do certain password protection so only when one keep card it will work.
    employees are there but they work at a slow rate, even a tortoise will give a lot of ticket than this human.

    okay,let us assume that they get lots of money, any how they not going to improve the system, rather than the bank out of themselves.

    • R's Mom says:

      I am hoping the system improves because at the end of the day, its going to help the common folks na!

      • chipmunk says:

        you are right as well, but the only problem is they never think of the mindset of a laymen. you will not believe, a monthly season from chennai beach to Tambaram was 115 earlier, where as it is 160 from last month on.
        If I get down in previous stop of mine, its just 85 bucks, but to get down in my stop I need to get 160 worth pass

  8. Smita says:

    You know besides the very valid points that you have put what is the other reason for the losses?

    Corruption! For name sake the reservations open 4 months in advance & gets booked up in a week but the reality is that they open only a little seats. For eg if a Sleeper Class has 100 seats, they open reservation for 40, rest 60 they will either open during tatkal, which never gets bookd from proper channel and you have to mint out extra cash to get them. Some seats from the 60 quota are also reserved under xyz quotas. So the train might be full but the fact is that every one is paying out extra cash which fills the pockets of corrupt brokers, babus and ministers!!!!

    If only we mend our ways and start working with honesty this railway has so much potential i tell you. Most Indians have no other means to travel and they will travel even if the train serves no food and has bad toilets. We will adjust but at least make the tickets available in a fair manner.

  9. I am a financial dud too, though I officially studied Accounting. 😦 High-five on that! I can never fill up my own tax returns or learn about investments….. they just don’t make sense to me.

    About the railways, I can’t figure out how they are running losses, too, considering that it is so difficult to obtain train tickets even 3 months in advance and they are so many people travelling by trains!! And I couldn’t agree more with your recommendations – if these were followed, I would travel by train at least 80% of the times I book a flight ticket!

  10. chaitali says:

    Though i can manage my finances, i still can’t apprehend how railways could be at losses.
    Cleanliness and Safety are main areas of concerns for me.

  11. garima says:

    Indian Railways running under loss..really?I dont believe it.In past 6 years I have travelled some 5-6 times in Rajdhani on Bhopal-Bangalore-Bhopal route and each time the food that they provide is not only degraded in quality also the varitey of dishes have come down whereas the fare has hiked like anything

    Also we are declined bisleri water saying its out of stock,dint we pay all the money in advance before itself?Newspapers distribution have long been stopped and not to forget rats and cockraoches running in the compartments!

    The mobile charging point never works.So a journey 0f 26 hours is spent in battery drained out.

    When I pay some 2500 rs/- as fare I would definitley look for better food,clean toilets and better amentities.So people prefer paying 4000 rs/- and taking flights instead of trains which also saves times.

    All said and done I would also say that we are the ones travelling in those trains ,so its also our duty to keep the toilets clean .I see people spitting ,throwing paper soaps not flushing,soiling the toilet seats.May be this can be avoided if passengers are bit responsible.

    Though there is a plus point too: the beddings that they give are always clean 🙂 silver lining 🙂

  12. For someone who loves train travel and thought of trains being flooded as well, this one came as a shocker. I agree about involving fresh minds, making it more accessible and definitely the sanitation ! Some of my own family members dread a long distance by train and book flights just for the sanitation issues.
    Lot of food for thought there. while we are on food, one bhel please !

  13. techie2mom says:

    I loved all your suggestions…I think efficiency is something on which every govt. organization work on…I was recently reading Richard Branson’s autobiography and in reference to that your 6th point makes so much sense!!!

  14. Smita T says:

    Management Consultant at work 😉 you have really raised very valid points… travelling by train is actually lifeline for so many people… and its a pity that one does not get a ticket after 30 mins after the booking opens (that too if the site works)… they really need to improve infrastructure both the IT and non IT… but then for everything there is a cut involved, so that basic cost always is not worth the things set up… its really a pity…

  15. hitchy says:

    Dear R’s Mom ! I think our railways are way too cheap… frankly… Baroda to Bharuch by train is 28 rs and by bus it is 80 rs…. both unreserved… but because the train is so cheap and the bus is so expensive… I get a seat in the bus and never in train… !


    I go by 2nd class sleeper from Bharuch to Pune in lil over Rs.250/- and from Pune Railways station to my friends house the rickshaw charges me Rs.200/- !!! Just figure that out…

    Over years the politicians want to woo the common crowd…read the voting junta and hence they do not raise fares. Trust me when I was in college Bharuch to Baroda in train was 23 Rs and its 28 Rs now that is in 15 years only 20% increase… where as inflation has been at 10 % for the past two years only !

    Sigh I can go on and on and on… our govt has to pay a lot on subsidies and our public thinks that they are paying more… its an unreal world that our politicians sometimes give us… Yes they make us feel good about it… however in the end we only are paying the subsidies just that the ear is caught the other way round than straight up

    • R's Mom says:

      okay, I agree with you…but then we pay in form of horrid taxes dont we?

      I mean all it requires is a bit a efficiency and honestly…we love subsidies in railways, but give us that worth

      • hitchy says:

        Honesty and Efficiency is required… but still think it over… Simple luxury Bus from Bharuch to Pune non ac is rs800 while train second class sleeper reserved is rs250 !

        Its too less seriously ! Also so much of without ticket travel happens ! I m not blaming anyone… just telling you why they are in losses…

  16. Amit says:

    Areee Railways are running into losses because they are not earning enough black money to keep everyone happy. Otherwise everything is fine. After they distribute everything, there is hardly anything left to better the services.

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