KOLKATA METRO CUTS DOWN LOSSES FIRST TIME IN RECENT YEARS
By bappaditya paul
Thanks to the fare hike in November last year, Metro Railway for the first time in recent memory has cut down losses and has improved its operating ratio. In the 2013-14 fiscal year that ended on 31 March, Metro reported an operating loss of Rs 110.84 crore. But the silver lining for Kolkata’s lifeline is that, the loss this time was Rs 14.16 crore less than the previous year; in 2012-13 the loss was Rs 125 crore.
Consequent to this, Metro Railway’s operating ratio has improved to Rs 286 from what was Rs 328 the previous year. This means, during 2013-14, Metro Railway spent Rs 286 to earn every Rs 100; this is an improvement of Rs 42.
This is a good sign as Metro has been in the red for over a decade now and the losses were mounting up year after year. In 2010-11 the operating loss was Rs 83.91 crore, in 2011-12 Rs 99.26 crore and in 2012-13 Rs 125 crore. Sources in Metro Railway said that in 2013-14, Metro’s total work expenditure stood at Rs 255.89 crore and the gross earning was Rs 145.05 crore. As regards the quarter-to-quarter earnings, it registered a remarkable leap in passenger revenue in the third and fourth quarter, that is, between October and March.
“The Metro fare was hiked on 7 November. Consequent to this, we witnessed Rs 10.84 crore increase in passenger revenue during October to December and Rs 16.33 crore increase during January to March. This has largely helped us to cut down the losses,” said a senior official in Metro Railway. In November, the Metro fare was hiked by 25 to 85 per cent based on different distance slabs: Rs 5 for a journey up to five km, Rs 10 for 5-10 km, Rs 15 for 10-20 km, Rs 20 for 20-25 km and Rs 25 for 25-30 km. Prior to that, Metro used to charge Rs 4 up to five km, Rs 6 for 5-10 km, Rs 8 for 10-15 km, Rs 10 for 15-20 km, Rs 12 for 20-25 km and Rs 14 for 25-30 km.
In 2013-14 Metro Railway carried 19.52 crore passengers as compared to the 18.83 crore who traveled the previous year.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 28 May 2014.)