The Railways is in a fix over a cheque of Rs 950 sent by a passenger apparently to give up the subsidy borne by the government on the train fare between Jammu and Delhi. Currently, the Railways bears 43 per cent of the cost of all rail fares even as the public transporter incurs a loss of about Rs 30,000 crore every year in subsidising passenger fares. “There is no provision to accept such cheques so we will return it,” said a senior Railway Ministry official. In order to make passengers aware of the subsidy burden on the fare, it had started printing – “Indian Railways recovers only 57 per cent of cost of travel on an average” – on the computerised printed tickets issued to passengers since June 22 last year.
Recently, a person travelling from Jammu to New Delhi saw the message written on his ticket about the 43 per cent subsidy borne by the Railways during his train journey. He then decided to forego the subsidy and sent a cheque of Rs 950 to IRCTC for a similar train journey undertaken by him and his wife on the Jammu Rajdhani.
He sent the cheque along with a letter addressing the railway minister stating that “he will never avail such financial benefits in future”. The Railways had already given an option to senior citizens for foregoing concessions while buying tickets.
“But foregoing senior citizen concession is voluntary now and we are planning to make it broadbased covering other categories as well,” he said. The Railways recovers only 57 per cent of the expenses incurred for passenger transportation through sale of tickets of all classes. The Railways thus aims to convey a message to passengers that they have been given a subsidy of 43 per cent, or in other words, the transporter is incurring heavy losses to the tune of 43 per cent for ferrying travellers.