Higher fares for short distance trains to discourage needless travel: Railways
The ministry of railways on Wednesday clarified it has charged “slightly high fares” to “discourage unnecessary travel” in short distance passenger trains since they had begun operation post-lockdown.
The national carrier at present is operating only special passenger trains since the curbs on lockdown were eased. Regular passenger trains have been suspended since March 25, 2020.
“As special provisions for Covid-19, the fares of these trains have been fixed at unreserved price of mail/express trains for the same distance,” a statement from the railway ministry said.
The Railways which has now also begun local train services has come under criticism from daily commuters who are feeling the pinch of the rise in fares. For example, a ticket from Amritsar to Pathankot costs ₹55 now, earlier it was priced at ₹25. Similarly, the ticket fare of passenger DMU between Jalandhar city railway station and Ferozpur costs ₹60 now, while earlier it was ₹30.
“Railways would like to inform that these slightly higher fares for passenger and other short distance trains had been introduced to discourage people from avoidable travels and those which are not most necessary. Covid-19 is still around and in fact worsening in some states. Visitors from many states are being subjected to screening in other areas and discouraged to travel. Little higher price is to be seen as a proactive measure of Railways to prevent crowding in trains and stop Covid-19 from spreading,” the ministry said in a statement.
Currently, the Railways have operationalized almost 65 per cent of the Mail/Express trains and over 90 per cent of suburban services as compared to the pre lockdown times.
A total 1250 Mail/Express, 5350 suburban services and more than 326 passenger trains are presently in operation on an average on a daily basis. The statement from the ministry said that short distance passenger trains running presently constitute less than 3 per cent of total trains.
The Railways had to stop running of regular trains due to the Covid-19 related nationwide lockdown imposed on March 22, 2020 as a measure to counter the spread of Coronavirus.
Railways is constantly increasing the number of passenger carrying trains in a graded manner. Full restoration of regular services of passenger trains, to pre-Covid times, is to be considered keeping in view a range of factors and operational circumstances.
Keeping in view the prevailing Covid-19 situation, after introduction of Mail/Express trains, Railways is gradually operationalizing passenger trains taking all necessary precautions and making additional effort. Passenger operations have always been subsidized by Railways. Normally, Railways bears a loss on every journey by a passenger, the ministry said.