South Central Railway game with losing major revenue

Railways fail to provide attention to unreserved passengers, make them prefer bus transport.

Nellore: The railways have been losing a big chunk of revenue to luxury buses due to its failure to pay attention to the needs of passengers who travel in unreserved bogies.

Several luxury buses at regular frequencies and the four and six-lane bypass roads that have opened up are offering an attractive option for rail passengers.

Passengers no longer have to wait for crowded trains. The railways were earning a sizeable income from reserved coaches, but revenue from passengers taking unreserved compartments fell by 50 per cent, according to sources in the railways.

Unending delays, erratic cancellation and lack of service on trains are contributing to the slump in passengers figures.

Although the unreserved compartments are always full, the collection is not in tune with the rush because of majority of the crowd are ticketless travellers.

This is attributed to checking squads, who have a target to collect Rs 1.50 lakh per head per month, and are concentrating on imposing fines on passengers without reservation ticket travelling in reserved bogies of express trains, especially long distance ones bound for destinations such as Howrah, Guwahati, Patna etc.

The unauthorised passengers, boarding the trains in starting points such as Chennai or Bengaluru, are ready to pay penalty since the squad is keen on collection though they are supposed to detrain them in the next station.

This action is also discouraging passengers who reserve their tickets three months earlier for hassle-free travel, as unauthorised passengers occupy every inch of the coach and sleep wherever they wish depriving legitimate passengers even of leg space.

The squads are after long distance passengers as the latter are ready to pay any amount to them to remain in reserved coach for safety reasons as most of them carry large sums of money or valuables. Moreover, the monthly target of Rs 1.50 lakh can be achieved effortlessly within a week.

The concentration of checking staff on reserved coaches led to unprecedented increase in ticketless travellers in every train, be it passenger or express, a senior railway officer alleged.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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