A day after the Centre took the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes out of circulation, both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) saw an over 100 per cent surge in first-class season ticket sales on Wednesday compared to the day before as commuters tried to make most of the useless notes.
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Both CR and WR sold 6,544 quarterly, half-yearly and yearly season tickets on Wednesday, a 114 per cent jump over Tuesday’s figures of 3,052. First-class season ticket sales continued to be high till Friday night. “There is a scramble among commuters to use the old high-denomination notes,” said a senior railway official. From Saturday, railway booking counters will accept only new currency notes and won’t accept the scrapped notes.
Both CR and WR saw long queues at booking counters on Wednesday after the government allowed commuters to use the old notes for booking tickets. While the passenger reservation system saw a surge in booking on commuters’ hopes to get refunds later, buying season tickets helped them use their old currencies.
“It (Wednesday) was a lucky day for me as I had to renew my yearly first-class pass. I used most of my old notes to pay for the renewal,” said Manas Zaveri, who renewed his yearly season ticket from Vidyavihar station to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).
Even cash/card-operated ticket vending machines (COTVMs) saw a surge in commuters renewing their smart cards or season tickets. As many as 110 smart card recharge was done through COTVMs, which are usually not preferred by commuters. But considering the rush at booking counters, they didn’t mind getting rid of their old notes at these machines.
But Thursday saw a huge dip in season ticket sales as railway authorities struggled to part with change to commuters. “The railways ran out of change at many counters, giving commuters a tough time,” said an official. First-class commuters had surged in 2015-16 too, thanks to passengers’ willingness to spend more and travel comfortably. The CR had recorded 142-crore passengers in 2015-16 across both ranks of compartments. WR has, meanwhile, seen 68 crore passengers between April 2016 and October 2016 alone.