People using free passes to travel by train will soon have to get into the habit of buying tickets, with a top government panel asking the railways to put an end to issuing passes.
The nine-member group of ministers (GoM), headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, working on an effective anti-graft mechanism, has pointed out that such passes were being "allocated as a matter of discretion and were being exercised in abundance".
Railway ministers have distributed approximately 5,000 passes for free rail travel during their tenures — causing and additional expense of hundreds of crores per year.
Months before she quit as railway minister, Mamata Banerjee imposed the biggest burden on railway revenues by permitting free AC 3-tier travel to 13 lakh class-3 and class-4 railway employees.
MPs and freedom fighters are entitled to free train travel (the costs of which are borne by Parliament and the home ministry), while the railways bear the burden for the thousands of complimentary passes issued by their minister.