VELLORE: Come July 1, break journey will be a thing of the past. The Southern Railway has directed its commercial staff and station masters not to issue break and circular journey tickets and combined tickets starting next month.
Railway sources said the order was issued to eliminate technical difficulties in assessing five per cent GST on AC class bookings for break and circular journeys.
Though the GST does not apply to sleeper class reservation and will affect only AC class ticket booking, the railways has decided to go ahead with its plan.
However, the move will cause much discomfort to rail passengers, especially pilgrims and tourists, who take a break during their long distance travel and continue their journey, say next day, using that same ticket.
The new order, quoting a Railway Board directive, further said AC tickets would not be issued at unreserved ticket counters. Similarly, cluster tickets will not be available at counters.
Currently, pilgrims and tourists who take temple tours for more than 1,500 km opt for circular journey. They use a single ticket, valid for 15 days, allow ing them to break their journey at a maximum of eight stations. For break journey, the applicants have to submit their forms to station masters of the originating station. Once the station master fixed the fares, passengers could reserve their tickets at counters.
A senior railway official said for circular journeys, a passenger could opt for any class of travel by paying reservation fare to TTE, if he/she had wait-listed tickets with them. Confirmed ticket holder can upgrade his/her class onboard.
“Of the eight break journeys, if a passenger opted for different classes (sleeper and AC classes) for travel, the GST for AC class should be calculated for that particular part of the journey. It will create a lot of practical difficulties,” the official said.
Opposing the move, rail passengers said the circular journey option eliminated the hassles of booking tickets for every single journey and also came at lower rates.
At a time when railways is trying to promote tourism and run premier trains, withdrawal of circular journey would affect train tourists, said T Mohammed Mubeen, member of the Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee, Chennai division.
“If there is any technical difficulty in calculating the GST, the railways should allow manual booking of tickets until they fix the issue,” he said.