New Delhi, India (Urban Transport News): In a bid to optimize operational efficiency and adapt to changing commuter behaviors, the Namo Bharat trains in Ghaziabad have undergone a significant revision in their operating hours. Effective November 5, the trains will now be in service from 6 am to 10 pm, six days a week (Monday to Saturday), and from 8 am to 10 pm on Sundays. This adjustment marks a reduction in the previous operating hours, which spanned from 6 am to 11 pm.
The alteration in timings is a response to the observed low ridership on the priority section, specifically between the Sahibabad and Duhai Depot stations. Notably, commercial operations commenced on this section on October 21, following the inauguration by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, signaling the introduction of India's first semi-high-speed regional rail service.
In the initial week of operation, the Namo Bharat trains recorded a total footfall of 47,255, averaging a daily ridership of 6,751. While the specific ridership data for November is yet to be disclosed by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation, it is evident that the current ridership figures are relatively modest.
An official from NCRTC emphasized that the 17km priority section served as a pilot project and clarified that Namo Bharat was not initially designed for inter-city commuting. Consequently, assessing its success based on ridership in this limited section is deemed premature. The official anticipates a natural increase in ridership once commercial operations extend from Duhai to Meerut, a development expected to materialize around March.
“The 17km priority section was launched as a pilot project and Namo Bharat was never meant for inter-city commuting. Since it is operating only on a 17km section in Ghaziabad, ridership is not a criterion, as of now, to assess its success. Once the commercial operation commences from Duhai to Meerut, probably by March, the ridership will automatically increase,” an NCRTC official said, TOI reported.
According to NCRTC reports, the average occupancy rate for the five standard coaches, including those designated for women, during the first week stood at an encouraging 75%. However, the premium coach experienced a lower occupancy rate, with only 25% of the seats filled.
As Namo Bharat undergoes these operational adjustments, it underscores a dynamic approach to meet the evolving transportation needs of the region. The upcoming expansion of commercial operations is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future success and impact of this semi-high-speed regional rail service.