50% of Vande Bharat trains run with empty or partially filled seats: Kerala Congress

The Kerala unit of the Congress party has criticised the high fares and low occupancy of Vande Bharat trains, citing IRCTC data that shows over 50 per cent of these trains operate with many empty seats.
50% of Vande Bharat trains run with empty or partially filled seats: Kerala Congress
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The Kerala unit of the Congress party on Wednesday said the Vande Bharat trains on different routes in the country had extremely high fares and that those were running empty. Hitting out at the Centre, the Congress Kerala, in a series of tweets, cited an analysis of IRCTC booking data and said more than 50 per cent of Vande Bharat trains were operating with empty or partially filled seats.

"We've decided to prick the 'Vande Bharat' bubble. Analysis of IRCTC booking data reveals that over 50% of Vande Bharat runs either operate with empty or partially filled seats," the party wrote.

"This data, sourced from IRCTC just hours before train departures, focuses solely on the General category, excluding Tatkal bookings. Despite the holiday season prompting increased travel among families nationwide, bookings for Vande Bharat remain surprisingly low," it said.

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50% of Vande Bharat trains run with empty or partially filled seats: Kerala Congress

"Moreover, this data highlights a concerning trend regarding economic disparities. Affluent regions demonstrate a higher ability to afford Vande Bharat, while economically disadvantaged areas struggle to access these costly services," the party tweeted.

In a video from the IRCTC, the party's Kerala unit also showed waiting lists on other trains, while many seats on Vande Bharat trains remained unoccupied.

"In the Mumbai - Solapur (row-4) Vande Bharat, 277 seats are vacant, but almost all other trains are in the Waiting List. This means there is a huge demand for trains, but not this expensive one. This scenario isn't isolated; similar patterns emerge across various routes," the party wrote on X.

Comparing the ticket price of Vande Bharat trains to that of Garib Rath, the party said, "When a Garib Rath offers tickets at Rs 770, the exorbitant Rs 1,720 fare of Vande Bharat becomes prohibitive for ordinary travellers."

"Consider a family trip between Vishakapatnam and Hyderabad, where opting for Vande Bharat would incur Rs 13,760 instead of the Rs 6,160 cost via Garib Rath. It raises the pertinent question: Is Vande Bharat a viable option for the average commuter?" the Congress's Kerala unit asked.

The party also shared a video of an overcrowded train and said the Indian Railways needed to "serve diverse passenger demographics", and said that the "Railway's oversight of the lower-middle-class and impoverished communities is evident."

"The excessive focus on Vande Bharat is the real issue. Vande Bharats are good when a lot of our population can afford it. For that economic growth is really important," the party wrote on X.

"This Govt has been a disaster on that front and hence you see these expensive trains running empty!" it alleged.

In March this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off 10 Vande Bharat trains on different routes.

Later, on May 5, while addressing an election rally in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur, PM Modi claimed the Opposition said they will stop facilities like the free ration scheme and Vande Bharat trains after coming to power.

Source: India Today

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