Fares were first hiked after the railway budget last year. In October, the Railways announced a 3.7% service charge on first-class travel. On January 1, the MUTP surcharge was levied on first and second-class travel.
Passengers complain that though they pay five to 10 times more than second-class passengers, travelling conditions are not much better. “Only the seats differ, but even the first-class seats are in a bad condition, especially in the new rakes,” said Paresh Patil, a government employee.
Railway authorities said of the 75 lakh commuters on CR and WR, about 10% travel by first class. Despite a gradual increase in the number of first-class commuters, the number of compartments and trains remain the same, resulting in overcrowding.
“I rarely get a place to sit during my journey from Vikhroli to Masjid Bunder,” said Vishwas Das, a bank executive. Even women complained of overcrowding. They also said that security guards are rarely present in ladies’ compartments.