Not a single day passes with some or other media house spreading fake news about the government of India, which is further circulated by the Congress party and its leaders and its ecosystem. The latest incident of the same is an allegation that ticket fares for passenger trains will be doubled.
After remaining suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Indian Railways has decided to resume passenger train services in the country. While long-distance trains have already resumed as special trains, passenger trains were not started. While reporting this decision, some media houses had also claimed that the fare for such passenger trains will be doubled.
On 23rd Febrary, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi shared a clipping of a Hinde newspaper report making the same claim.
The same report was also shared by the official Twitter handle of the Congress party, claiming that passenger train fares will be doubled. The Congress claimed while the Modi government is promising bullet train at cheap rate, very soon passengers of general trains will have to pay the price of bullet trains.
After the reports of ‘doubling railway’ fares were circulated by media houses and political parties, sources in Indian Railway has come forward to deny those reports. The source in railways has said that fares have been ‘slightly’ increased for passenger and other short-distance trains, and it has not been doubled. The fares have been fixed at the existing fares for mail / express trains for the same distance.
The Indian Railway has clarified that the fares for unreserved tickets for short distanced have been increased to discourage crowding at trains, as the Coronavirus pandemic continues in the country. Little higher price is to be seen as Pro-Active measure of Railways to prevent crowding in trains and stop Covid-19 from spreading, said a source in Indian Railways.
With a view to regulate rush at stations and in trains, passenger trains are being charged slightly more fare than pre-COVID-19 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-19 times, the source added.
It may be noted that passenger operations have always been subsidized by railways. Normally, Railways bears a loss on every journey by a passenger.
A comparison with the bus fares shows that despite the moderate increase, the train remains the cheapest mode of transport in the country.
Sources in the Railways have also informed that fares have been increased in less than 3% of all the total trains running in the country. It added that the higher fare is a tool to discourage unnecessary crowding in trains and hence prevent the spread of coronavirus.
With the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown measures, Railways has operationalized almost 65 % of the Mail/Express trains and over 90 % of suburban services, as compared to the pre lockdown times. At present, 1250 Mail/Express trains, 5350 suburban service trains & more than 326 passenger trains are in operation average on a daily basis. This means, passenger trains constitute less the 3% of the total trains, for which the fare has been increased.
Indian Railways has noted that Coronavirus cases are still increasing in some states, and some states are re-introducing restrictions to prevent further spread of the pandemic. In such a situation, it is necessary to prevent crowding in passenger trains, which generally sees the most crowding as they need unreserved tickets to travel. In view of this, Railways has taken this step to discourage train travel unless it is absolutely necessary.