Official records show that the Indian Railways has earned just 2.91 per cent of total passenger earnings from the Tatkal (Immediate tickets) scheme for the first 10 months of the current fiscal. But most passengers feel there is more to this than what the numbers show. HT is in posession of hundreds of letters from frequent travellers, who point out other “hidden costs” on such tickets.
For the record, the Railways earned Rs 525 crore from the scheme from April 2008 to January 2009 . However, this does not include revenue generated by way of “additional fare”. If amounts generated under these separate heads were merged, the Tatkal revenues would go up manifold.
The earnings declared by the ministry are misleading; actual earnings from the scheme are many times more, a ministry official said on conditions of anonymity.
Standard Tatkal charges (ranging between Rs 150-200 per ticket) are levied on the ticket and the passenger is also required to pay the full fare from the source to the destination of a particular train even if the passenger travels only a part of the journey.
Also if the passenger has named a station midway in the train route as his boarding station, he is not allowed to board from the originating station as the Railways allots the berth to another passenger.
Ministry spokesman Anil Kumar Saxena said: “The additional charge in the scheme is justified as it’s a value-added service and is in the interests of passengers who are not able to plan their journeys in advance”.