CHENNAI: The number of ticketless travellers on the Indian Railways has increased by 60 per cent in the past five years with over 75,000 passengers — on an average — travelling across the country without proper tickets every day.
Efforts to curb ticketless travel have resulted in the Indian Railways increasing its revenue by a whopping Rs 5,944.71 crore from April 2014 to March 2019, official records accessed by Express have revealed. The data also showed that ticketless travel increased by over 60 per cent between 2014 and 2019.
The total number of passengers who were caught travelling without tickets in 2014-15 was 1.87 crore, but this increased to 2.76 crores last year.
Interestingly, revenue earned through penalising ticketless travellers witnessed a surge of 100 per cent within two years even though the number of defaulters increased only by 20 per cent.
From April 2016 to March 2017 railways penalised 2.56 crore passengers from whom it recovered Rs 952.15 crore. A total of 2,75,67,971 passengers were caught travelling without tickets between April 2018 and March 2019. The exercise yielded a revenue of Rs 1,822.62 crore to the Railways.
The sudden spike in the recovery is attributed to sustained special drives conducted across railway zones.
In 2018, the Parliament Railway Convention Committee, which inspected the financial report of 2016-17, expressed concern over the loss of revenue due to ticketless travel.
The panel also pointed out that penalty recovered from passengers was not corresponding with the number of persons caught by Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs).
Followed by this, the railway board directed 16 zonal railways to intensify the drive against ticketless travel across the country and fixed annual targets for every TTE.
The dwindling number of TTEs and other department staff in railways is impending prevention of ticketless travel, say TTEs.
“The railways has not filled the vacancies in Southern Railway and the other zones for the past four years. Many times, we are forced to collect penalties from vendors for ticketless travel to meet the monthly target,” rued a senior TTE in Chennai.
When contacted, a senior railway official said, “We have already sought the interest of commercial clerks and other department staff who wish to work as TTEs. The vacancies will be filled soon.”