Summer rush burns holes in Mumbai train passengers’ pockets | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Summer rush burns holes in Mumbai train passengers’ pockets

Apr 23, 2024 08:50 AM IST

Indian Railways running 9,111 summer special trains, but passengers facing high demand and inflated prices for seats on long-distance routes.

MUMBAI: With the summer rush in mind, Indian Railways had announced that it would be running 9,111 summer special trains this year—a substantial increase over last year’s 6,369. Despite this, thousands of passengers are at a particularly loose end this summer, and have ended up paying 1.5 to three times the fare to procure a seat on long-distance trains.

Commuters complained that trains were delayed by 10 to 15 minutes during the rush hour, which led to huge crowding both inside trains and at stations.(HT File Photo / For representational purpose only)
Commuters complained that trains were delayed by 10 to 15 minutes during the rush hour, which led to huge crowding both inside trains and at stations.(HT File Photo / For representational purpose only)

With premium tatkal tickets either sold out or waitlisted, ticketing agents are charging exorbitant fares. For instance, a regular 3AC ticket on the Bandra Terminus-Gorakhpur Avadh Express is 1,900 while a premium tatkal waitlisted ticket costs 2,320. With agents guaranteeing confirmed tickets, people are paying as much as 4,000 for a 3AC berth.

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With this week considered auspicious for weddings, the demand for train tickets to the North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is at its peak right now, with passengers willing to pay any amount. “I had to pay 4,000 per head for my five family members,” said Amit Gupta, a resident of Tardeo, who approached an agent when the wait list for his journey to Gorakhpur went beyond 250. “The agent confirmed only two, but we had no alternative but to travel that way.”

The demand for north-bound trains from Mumbai has remained consistently high since the start of this month. “Despite booking months in advance, our tickets remained waitlisted. I was forced to approach an agent to book our journey to Varanasi at the last minute,” said Manish Mishra, a resident of Kalyan.

A glance at ticket-booking sites shows that trains to Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Patna and Prayagraj, among other cities and towns starting from Central and Western Railways, are running at full capacity. “The railways themselves are charging higher fares in the name of premium tatkal,” said Shamboo Kumar, a ticket booking agent from Mulund. “So what can the agents do? We are just trying to get as many confirmed tickets as possible.”

Kumar added that travel to South India had options like flying or going by road, which kept the demand for railway ticket prices in check. “This is not the case with those going to North Indian states,” he said. “There are not enough flights or airports, and people cannot afford the prices. The railways should run more trains.”

An instance of the mad rush played itself out last week. Chaos erupted at Surat and Udhna stations, where over 15,000 passengers boarded long-distance trains in a single day. The railway authorities had to rush to control the crowd and even run special unreserved trains.

“I have been getting eight to ten complaints almost every day about insufficient long-distance trains,” said Nandkumar Deshmukh, president, Federation of Rail Passengers Association. “In a few cases, even passengers with valid tickets were unable to travel due to overcrowding inside the trains and on platforms.”

Indian Railways, on the other hand, said it was running 9,111 summer special trains this year, of which more than 2,300 trains operate from Central Railway and Western Railway. Sources in the railways said there were 1,100 trains (690 on CR and 410 on WR) that were operating from Mumbai and neighbouring Pune and Surat.

“This marks a substantial rise compared to the summer of 2023, where a total of 6,369 trips were offered,” said a railway official. “This translates to an increase of 2,742 trips, demonstrating our commitment to meeting passenger demands. Senior officers are stationed at rail stations to monitor the crowds and regulate trains in a systematic manner.”

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