Railway Ticket Costlier Than Plane Ticket: Uproar on Social Media
Speaking about the wish to visit her home town Bihar for Chath Puja, one Asima Bhatt, shared a snapshot of a train ticket from Patna to Mumbai that showed a train ticket priced at the steep price of INR 9500. This festival season saw scores of people complaining about the train ticket prices hiked to exorbitant prices.
A similar situation had occurred with passengers in March 2023, when several passengers complained about being charged undue amounts of money during festival season for ticket fares, according to the Times of India. Furthermore, the Sabrang India report has stated that on the eve of Chath Puja, November 17, the rent for the air-conditioned second-class seat from Mumbai to Patna was INR 9355. Meanwhile, the rent for AC Three Tier was INR 6655, and for sleeper class, it was INR 910. The AC three tier category had a fare of INR 6335. And this was only for the journey back to Mumbai. Similarly, on November 22nd, the fare for the air-conditioned second-class seat from Patna to Mumbai is INR 9395. The fare for AC Three Tier is INR 6655, and for AC Three Tier Economy, it is INR 6335.
The highest increase in fare is seen in the Sleeper Class category from Patna to Mumbai. While the maximum fare on November 17 in Sleeper Class was INR 910 for the journey to Patna, it has now reached up to INR 2625 for the return journey on November 22. On regular days, the fare for AC Two Tier from the Patliputra station is only INR 2645.
According to a report by Sabrang India, citizens online tried to humorously address this concern. One person named Ajay Prakash advises, “Be cautious not to gasp at the sight of the train fare. Ache din aane waale hain. Modi ji might just transform railways into aeroplanes and ensure equal fares.”
Along with surges in ticket prices, reports have emerged of the harrowing and even unsafe situation taking place at the railway stations. Furthermore, Newslaundry reported the condition of railway stations near the festive season and noted how scores of people were sitting on the floor and near toilets in trains, and on social media videos were showed scenes of people clinging to train doors in their attempt to reach their hometowns. This has happened despite the fact that the government has started 42 Chath special trains.
According to another report, due to the rising crowds at the railway stations several people have even witnessed fainting out of lack of oxygen. The police can be seen here trying to resuscitate these passengers. This chaos seems to be a routine occurrence every year prior to the Chath, people have expressed dissatisfaction with the inadequacy of transport facilities to cope with the increased demand. A passenger, who had reserved a ticket three months in advance, lamented the lack of hope and facilities, expressing frustration at being unable to board the train due to the overwhelming crowds.
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Have the railways seen any hikes?
No, the Indian Railways have not introduced price hikes in the fare since 2014, reports however allege that there has been the inclusion of “superfast trains” that have higher prices. Despite this, many of the Indian railways passengers continue to face difficulties when booking tickets.
According to a report by The Hindu, a Right to Information request resulted in the response by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) that about 1.4 crore passengers were unable to secure confirmed seats, leading to denied train travel in the last six months.
What is the Suvidha provision by the Indian railways?
Prompted by the uproar, the Indian Railways has, according to Outlook, been considering removing the Suvidha Train options. But what are the Suvidha trains?
In 2014, the Railway Ministry had introduced the Suvidha Express which was to address the growing demand for train tickets, especially during festival rushes. Thus, Suvidha Express works on some of the busiest routes and connects major cities across India. According to The Quint, the fares for Suvidha Express trains are relatively higher compared to other express trains covering the same route, and the fair is generally “dynamic.” This means that train ticket fares automatically undergo a 10 percent hike after every the sale of 10 tickets, thus as the date of travel approaches and the availability of seats declines, the prices continue to rise. This is the same model followed for airplane ticket prices.
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