After concerns were raised over hiked train fares of short-distance passenger trains, the railways said the “slightly high fares” are only to discourage unnecessary travel. “Railways would like to inform that these slightly higher fares for passenger and other short-distance trains had been introduced to discourage people from avoidable travels and those which are not most necessary. These fares are fixed at an unreserved price of mail/ express trains for the same distance,” a statement from the railway ministry said.
It further added that a little higher price is to be seen as a proactive measure of Railways to prevent crowding in trains and stop Covid from spreading.
“Covid is still around and in fact, worsening in some states. Visitors from many states are being subjected to screening in other areas and discouraged to travel. A little higher price is to be seen as a pro-active measure of Railways to prevent crowding in trains and stop Covid from spreading,” the statement said.
The statement from the ministry said the short-distance passenger trains account for less than three per cent of the total number of trains being operated. More such trains are in the pipeline in consultation with the State Governments. Such short distance trains require interstate discussions and concurrence of all concerned.
Indian Railways had to stop running regular trains due to Covid related nationwide lockdown on 22 March 2020 as a measure to counter the spread of Coronavirus.
During challenging times of Covid, Indian Railways has operationalized almost 65 % of the Mail/Express trains and over 90 % of suburban services as compared to the pre lock downtimes.
On average, 1,250 mail and express trains, 5,350 suburban services, and at present, more than 326 passenger trains are in operation daily.
Trains are being run under the most challenging circumstances due to COVID-19 and many are being operated despite a low occupancy for the benefit of people, the railway ministry said.
Not only this, Railways has taken special care about those travelling by lowest fare in trains so that even in Covid times they bear the least burden. In all the trains that are being run, besides other classes, the trains have a large number of 2S (Sleeper) class coaches which have the lowest fare in the reserved category.
40% of the passengers have travelled in the ‘2S’ class in much better travelling conditions than pre-Covid, unreserved travelling situations.
“To regulate rush at stations and in trains, passenger trains are being charged slightly more fare than pre-Covid times and a close watch is being kept on its patronisation. The situation is being constantly monitored to ensure restoration of services in keeping with the protocols necessary to be followed during Covid times,” the statement from the ministry said.