India’s Rail Network is the 4th longest and the most heavily used system in the world transporting over 10,000 Million passengers & over 1000 Million Tonnes of freight annually. Is this not a reason enough for us to have a world class railways with affordable fare for all. Expecting a world class railways as of China, France, Japan, Germany would be expecting far beyond and moreover this is something which requires lot of investment & time, all we should hope is it would happen sooner or later.
But are we affordable? We are not..We are certainly Not… See it for yourself and judge…
We see vacant berths offered under PREMIUM TATKAL (PT) category. This category is only consumed during peak festival rush. What could be the reason behind it? The only reason you would find is the exorbitant fare being charged under so called the Dynamic Fare Pricing. This is sometimes far beyond what is charged by the Airlines. Are we calling this as affordable means of travel? We have new scheme of suvidha trains running during holidays/festivals where again fares are equivalent to Premium Tatkal Tickets. Are we not catering to richer section of the society rather than coming up with something that benefits all?
TATKAL is a Hindi word which means emergency/urgency/extremely important etc and its ironic that approx 30% of the train berths are reserved under this category. This in other word means that 30% of the travelers travel under emergency situation which is laughable & to add you have option of booking a Wait list Ticket under this category. Over a year back wait listed tatkal tickets were given preference over general waiting list in case of extra coach augmentation & left out berths at time of charting. However, this has changed after PIL was filed in court.
The fares are not being increased in Railway Budget so as to avoid common people backlash & here we have a back door mechanism to compensate for that. Now we have another rule being enforced from Nov 12, 2015 on increase of cancellation charges which is only going to increase Railways revenue. Increase in cancellation fare can well be justified if railways stops issues ridiculously high waiting list tickets. We can see wait listing running over 500-700 in many North India bound trains during Durga Puga / Deepawali / Holi festivals. Being practical & realistic these high numbers would never have a chance of getting confirmed berths leading to cancellation & in turn yielding some revenue to the Railways.
We have a Railway Minister who is without doubt working tirelessly in terms of project completion/clearance, Expansion of railways lines, doubling of tracks, Electrification, Green Energy, Bio-Toilets and Swach Railways to name a few. Fair/Affordable availability is something that common man looks into & I pin my faith on Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, A Charted Accountant who took over as Minister of Railways a year ago saying him “PRABHU !! KUCH KIJIYE”
It’s My Take, With all humility may not be yours !!