Recently some Media outlets reported that the Indian Railways has, for a while now, been charging slightly higher fares from the passengers travelling in the short-distance trains. As the news spread, Railways soon barged in to clarify its stance on the price hike.
A statement released by the Railways said, “As a special provision in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fares of these trains have been fixed at par with the price of unreserved tickets of mail and express trains for the same distance”.
“Covid 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 pro-active measure of Railways to prevent crowding in trains and stop Covid from spreading,” it added.
Justifying the price hike as an attempt to curb crowds at stations amidst the pandemic, the Ministry, further added that short distance passenger trains account for a share of only 3 per cent of the total number of trains being operated.
The ministry also claimed that despite the hike, the Railways still continue to be a cheaper option for the citizens of the country. “Normally, Railways bears a loss on every journey by a passenger. Officials maintain that despite the hike, Railways still remained a cheaper option to travel,” it added.
In recent months, the Indian Railways has steadily begun to increase the number of passenger trains, most of which were stopped when the lockdown was first introduced in the country. As of now, 1,250 mail and express trains, 5,350 suburban services and more than 326 passenger trains are in operation in the country.
The railways further explained that charging slightly higher fare also helps it regulate rush at the stations for passengers’ own safety.
“With a view to regulate rush at stations and in trains, passenger trains are being charged slightly more fare than pre-Covid times and a close watch is being kept on its patronisation. The situation is being constantly monitored to ensure restoration of services in keeping with the protocols necessary to be followed during Covid times,” the statement concluded.