Indian Railways has the worst operating ratio in the last ten years at 98.44% and its revenue surplus has decreased by more than 66% from Rs 4,913 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 1,665.61 crore in 2017-18, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India noted in report tabled in Parliament Monday.
“The Operating Ratio of 98.44 per cent was the worst in the last ten years. Indian Railways, in fact, would have ended up with a negative balance of Rs 5,676.29 crore instead of surplus of Rs 1,665.61 crore but for the advance received from NTPC and IRCON. Exclusion of this advance would otherwise have increased the Operating Ratio to 102.66%,” the CAG noted.
This comes at a time when the national transporter has targeted to reduce its operating ratio to 95% for the current financial year.
“The operating ratio of the railways is expected to improve from 98.4% in 2017-18 to 96.2% in 2018-19 and to 95% in 2019-20,” union railways minister Piyush Goyal had said in February.
The share of internal resources in total capital expenditure also decreased to 3.01% in 2017-18. This had resulted in greater dependence on Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) and Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR), it said.
The auditor noted Indian Railways was unable to meet its operational cost of passenger services and other coaching services. One of the contributing factors for this has been the concessional fares the national transporter provides to various beneficiaries.
Almost 95% of the profit from freight traffic was utilized to compensate the loss on operation of passenger and other coaching services.
“Review of the impact of concessions allowed to passengers revealed that 89.7 % of the revenue forgone towards concessions was on account of concession to senior citizens and Privilege Pass/Privilege Ticket Orders (PTOs) holders,” the CAG said.
Currently, the national carrier gives 53 major types of concessions to the general public which includes senior citizens, physically challenged persons, recipients of gallantry awards, among others.
The response to ‘give up’ scheme from the senior citizen passengers was not encouraging, the CAG noted. In fact it further noted, “the annual rate of growth in terms of number of passengers travelling in AC classes in all the categories of concessions was higher than that of the non-AC classes.”
It added several instances of misuse of passes and irregular grant of concessions on medical certificates were also noticed.