Fine on 1-cr ticketless travellers helps rlys rake in Rs 399 cr

Written by Nirbhay Kumar | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 06:33am hrs
Despite massive subsidies for rail travel and rising incomes, ticketless travel on Indian Railways is on the rise. The countrys largest transporter caught and fined one crore passengers in 2009-10, with total fines collected for ticketless travel and unbooked luggage touching Rs 399 crore. It is estimated that Indian Railways loses Rs 1,000 crore every year due to ticketless travel on its 60,000-km network.

Per capita income in 2009-10 measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) stood at Rs 31,278 at constant 1999-2000 market prices, up 5% over the previous years Rs 29,901.

According to official data, in 2005-06, the railways had penalised 5.2 million ticketless travellers, with a similar number fined for carrying unbooked luggage. This comes in the backdrop of huge subsidisation of rail travel to make mobility affordable for the common man. The Indian Railways is estimated to have lost Rs 19,000 crore due to cross-subsidisation of passenger fare with that of freight earnings.

Rail fare in India is considered to be one of the lowest in the world. Pushing politics over economics, former railways minister Lalu Prasad had announced cuts in general class fare more than once during his tenure. His successor Mamata Banerjee too launched heavily-subsidised rail passes called Ijjat for the poor to woo voters. Its not that passengers who travel without ticket cannot afford to buy a ticket. It is a mindset which needs to be changed. After all, those who are caught pay the hefty fine; so, where is the question of affordability, wondered an official.