Indian Railways, in yet another bid to fill its depleted coffers, has decided to increase the cost of half of the tatkal tickets on 80 trains under the dynamic fare system from 1 October this year. The dynamic fare system, which has partially been implemented with this move, will charge passengers depending on the demand.
The decision having come amidst the festival season is bound to irk passengers, but it is also true that they have nowhere to vent their grievances either. No concerted attempt needs to even be made to understand that the Indian railways is the lifeline of billions of Indians who use it to move about from one part of the country to another. For the common man, who already is reeling under tremendous pressure with inflation figures still touching 7.8 per cent, this move of the Indian railways is bound to mount more problems atop a heap of existing ones.
Everybody knows that the festive season in India means absolutely no available tickets and people, mostly middle-class and lower-middle-class Indians who need to travel urgently, usually dole out exorbitant sums of money to avail one. People higher in the economic strata are usually forced to book air tickets. The poor, however are left stranded because when they cannot afford a regular ticket, there is certainly no chance that they can allow their pockets to pay for a tatkal ticket.
But with this move, aren’t the Indian railways widen the social divide which already exists? And why shouldn’t this exoneration of a certain section of society from travelling be considered as encroachment on their freedom to move in any part of the country? Indian railways must understand that with no concrete population control measures in place, the Indian population will only grow and not magically be reduced.
The more than 12,000 trains that run across the Indian subcontinent are a far cry from the daily ridership which is pegged at 23 million passengers. They may justify the fair increase for want of funds but they should also accept that India is in a dire need for more trains which not only can accommodate as many passengers as they can but also make passengers reach their destinations in less time. And when fares were revised of all classes by 14.2 per cent on 25 June by the NDA government, what was the immediate need to bring in this measure? Perhaps, an answer can be
sought on that.