Penalty from rise in ticketless travel, unbooked luggage swells Rly coffers

Penalty from rise in ticketless travel, unbooked luggage swells Rly coffers

The earnings of the South Western Railways from penalties on ticketless travelling and unbooked luggage have gone up, but at the same time, it has officials worried as it indicates an increase in the number of these cases.

Sample this: In 2013, for the first three months – January, February and March – the department earned Rs 1.66 crore from 43,310 cases booked for offences such as traveling without ticket and unbooked luggage. In the corresponding months this year, the earnings jumped to Rs 2.04 crore and so were the cases - 52,505.

Moreover, railway officers say that comparing the last two financial years - 2012-13 and 2013-14, the overall earnings through penalties have gone up by 23 per cent. While in 2012-13, the department earned a little over Rs 6 crore in the entire year, in the next fiscal 2013-14, the revenue shot up to Rs 8.3 crore.

Now, officials are making all-out efforts to instil fear among passengers to discourage them from travelling without tickets and getting additional luggage booked.

The efforts specifically gain momentum in the light of two incidents in the past. The one involving the Bangalore-Nanded Express in which the bogies caught fire; and the very recent blast in two coaches of Guwahati Express in Chennai.

In fact, last year 2.15 lakh cases of ticketless passengers alone were booked and approximately Rs 13 crore penalty collected.

South Western Railways Divisional Manager Anil K Aggarwal said, “We are making efforts to bring down the number of such cases. From this year, we have started ‘ambush checking’ and ‘fortress checking’. During ambush checking, we stop trains anywhere and check for tickets and luggage of passengers. In fortress checking, we close all entry and exits of stations on any given day without prior notice and with the help of the railway staff and security personnel, arriving and departing trains are checked.”

So far, 65 ambush checks were conducted and these will be intensified in the coming days, he said.

During a recent checking on May 5 at Bangalore City, Yesvantpur and Cantonment railway stations, a record number 679 cases were booked on a single day, earning the department Rs 3.55 lakh.