In his reply to discussions on Rail Budget,Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal may have argued in favour of higher cancellation charges for tickets to ward off touts or illegal hoarders of train tickets,but data suggests that this menace,which has been haunting the railways for decades,may finally be breathing its last.
Ever since the rule of carrying photo-identity cards during travel came into effect late last year,there has been a drastic drop in the incidents of transferred tickets detected on trains during checks.
Since October last year,the Indian Railways mop up in penalties from cases of transferred tickets has fallen by over 61 per cent. The progressive month by month fall in the number of transferred tickets came down by over 32 per cent by December-end and further down by the end of February this year. The decision to make photo-IDs must for all classes was announced in November and implemented from December 1 last year. Since January,some of the zonal railways have caught only a handful of cases; Northern Railway has detected only one,proving the efficacy of the system.
Unlike in the past,now no one can corner tickets in fictitious names in advance to sell them at a premium later because of the ID system. Based on demand for certain routes and during certain seasons touts were able to charge even triple the ticket amount, said a senior railway official.
The chances of a needy passengers name and other credentials matching those in a pre-booked tickets sold by touts is slim.
Someone charging a fee for the service of booking a ticket with valid details of a bona fide passenger is not considered touting.
In October,the amount realised from penalties imposed on cases of transferred tickets was Rs 65 lakh. That figure came down to Rs 24 lakh by December-end. The number of cases of transferred tickets detected in October was 10,300,which fell to 7,000 by end of last year. And since then it has been falling fast.
The proposal to make photo IDs mandatory for all classes had been doing the rounds for years without finding favour with the political dispensations which feared the move could be construed as anti-poor. Railways was finally able to convince its political masters last year when the rule was made applicable to AC classes in February leaving out larger chunk of passengers who travel in non-AC classes. Bansal included non-AC reserved classes in December.