Pay more for IRCTC train tickets! Indian Railways is drawing up an ambitious plan to encourage railway passengers to give up the subsidy in train fares. As part of the 100-day roadmap prepared by the Railway Board, the national transporter is looking to rationalise passenger fares. The 100-day roadmap document for Indian Railways, seen by Financial Express Online, lists out the top 11 priorities for railways till August-end. The list of important projects that Indian Railways is hoping to undertake and expedite will be presented to PM Narendra Modi for his final nod. One prominent part of the action plan is to encourage railway passengers to give up the subsidised part of their fares voluntarily.
According to the proposal, at the time of booking their IRCTC train tickets, passengers will be give the following options:
Indian Railways aims to launch a massive awareness campaign of the “Give It Up” scheme within 100 days to reduce passenger subsidy on Indian Railways. This campaign will be run on digital, TV, print, radio, social media platforms and at railway stations and inside trains. According to the national transporter, Indian Railways recovers only 53% of the cost incurred from the passenger transport business. With this voluntary scheme, Indian Railways feels that the losses in the passenger segment will be reduced using the subsidy that will be received (not used by passengers) under the “Give It Up” scheme.
The move comes after the success of the “Give It Up” scheme for senior citizens. It is yet unclear whether Indian Railways plans to extend the voluntary scheme to all passengers or only spread awareness amongst those who are eligible for various concessions.
Last year, PM Narendra Modi had lauded senior citizens for participating in Indian Railways “Give It Up” scheme. According to data published by Indian Railways, between 15th August, 2016 to 31st March, 2018 as many as 40 lakh senior citizens gave up their railway fare subsidy resulting in a benefit of Rs 77 crore.
While the move to prompt railway passengers to voluntarily give up their railway fare subsidy based on their ability to pay more is a welcome step, Indian Railways should increase its focus on the quality of onboard services and punctuality of trains. According to a recent CAG report on dynamic fares on Indian Railways trains, passengers believe that rise in train fares should be accompanied with better services. Therefore, expecting passengers to voluntarily give up the fare subsidy or concession should be accompanied with improvement in train services to ensure success of the scheme.