CHENNAI: Have you been ruing the fact that Indian Railways charges a substantial amount when you cancel booked tickets? Well, that policy, which has been in force since November 2015, has earned the Railways a whopping Rs 5,366.53 crore till March 2019. According to information obtained through RTI, earnings from cancellation charges jumped by a massive Rs 646.54 crore in 2018-19 compared to the previous year.
While the earnings for Indian railways from cancellation charges was Rs 1,205.96 crore in 2017-18, it shot up to Rs 1,852.50 crore in 2018-19. In the same manner, Southern Railway earned Rs 176.76 crore in 2017-18, which jumped to Rs 182.56 crore in 2018-19. Shockingly, ticket cancellation revenue of the neighbouring South Central Railway whose jurisdiction currently spreads over Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh has jumped from Rs 127.22 crore to Rs 690.80 crore — 500 per cent increase.
The upward trend in ticket cancellation revenue is attributed to the increasing cancellation of wait-listed tickets across India. This is mainly because demand, particularly during night hours, has increased steeply in recent years, thanks to inter-State migration. On any given day, the waiting list in sleeper class coaches of trains on high-demand routes exceeds 150-250. In AC coaches, it goes up to 50. The Railways deducts Rs 60 for sleeper class ticket cancellations, even when the tickets are not confirmed.
When contacted, a senior railway official said new rules had helped Railways increase the utilisation of berths without much investment on new coaches and trains. Going by the success, it seems the cancellation policy is here to stay.
Why charge for cancellations?
Ganesh Lingam, a rail enthusiast from Madurai estimates that roughly 2,000 passengers in south-bound trains are put on wait-list on a daily basis. “Since the refund process is fully automated, they must get full refund. A family of four now lose Rs 240 on cancellations, which is huge.”