There was good news as well as bad news from the Indian Railways, whose modernisation push in recent years has seen an increase in expenditure, upgradation of facilities and changes in fares.
A recent RTI request to the railways revealed that fines worth INR 1,377 crore have been levied on ticketless passengers over the past three years. It also revealed that 8.9 million people were fined over the last financial year, a number that is larger than the populations of small countries like Singapore, Switzerland and Israel.
Railway’s’ fines against ticketless travellers has gone up by 31% from 2016, the RTI query revealed.
The Parliament Railway Convention Committee in 2018 stated that Indian Railways earned INR 405.30 crore as penalties in 2016-17, INR 441.62 crore in 2017-18 and INR 530.06 crore in 2018-2019.
Meanwhile, in a bid to boost sales and meet challenges posed by roadways and low-cost airlines, the Indian Railways has decided to offer up to 25 per cent discount on trains like Shatabdi Express, Tejas, Gatiman and Vande Bharat Express.
“Trains with monthly occupancy of less than 50 per cent in the previous year are eligible for the discount,” a railway ministry official said.
The discount can be offered yearly, half-yearly, seasonally or during weekends.
This also means that the Railways have stopped the dynamic pricing scheme in certain trains with low occupancy.