Hyderabad: Ever since the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) suspended commercial operations from March 22 on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 4.5 lakh passengers are finding it difficult to travel to their workplaces and other destinations.

Not just the passengers, even the management is feeling the pinch of suspending commercial operations as the losses are mounting with every passing day. Though officials are tight-lipped on the losses after suspending commercial operations for nearly 160 days, rough estimates are that it could be around Rs 50 crore a month. This totals to cumulative losses of about Rs 250 crore.

Prior to the lockdown, things were looking bright for the Hyderabad Metro since apart from breaking several records in terms of passenger patronage, it was garnering more attention by achieving break-even operationally within a short period. The Metro had achieved break-even operationally in just two years to become one of the fastest Metros to achieve the financial feat. It was earning about Rs 40 crore per month, including Rs 30 crore through passenger ticket revenue and the rest through property development.

A few Metro services in other cities, which were launched before the Hyderabad Metro, were yet to achieve operational break-even. With the Hyderabad Metro regularly registering a patronage of four lakh passenger per day prior to the lockdown, officials were planning to introduce two more trains, besides intensifying measures for increasing the train speed.

During March, 55 trains were operated, which made nearly 1,000 trips a day. In tune with the passenger rush, two more trains were on the cards, with trials too being conducted. However, Covid-19 threw all these plans off track, an HMRL official said.

During March, there were around 4.5 lakh passengers on weekdays while it slid to 3.8 lakh on holidays. The JBS-Metro route was registering about 25,000 passengers every day.

Now, Metro officials are keeping their fingers crossed and are keen to resume commercial operations at the earliest, since more delay in resuming services will aggravate the losses, the official said, adding that it would definitely take time for passengers to board the trains in large numbers. “But we need to start somewhere following all guidelines,” the official added.

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