Yes. I claim; Indian Railway penalise its victims. This is being done openly in broad day light under nose of our Parliament and active judiciary without anyone, including victims noticing it. I first time in 2008 noticed that innocent Indian are being penalised for a wrongful act primarily by railway.
I was waiting for a train to my hometown Aligarh at platform number 11 New Delhi Railway Station in a summer evening. Both EMU train to Aligarh have already left on time and my best bet now was Magadh Express or Vaisali Express train. A well suited man of late thirties with his wife and a little daughter approached me asking when next train to Aligarh will depart. They had one small bag with some tags of international airlines. I asked whether he has reservation in any train till Aligarh. He told me that on window, clerk told that reservation for today has been closed and you may travel without reservation for this odd 140 kilometer journey. He had a valid non- reservation second class ticket with superfast charges. I think, it was my duty to inform that this ticket is legally valid only for non- reservation coaches which are very crowded. He helplessly asked what to do. There were two available options for him, either ready to pay penalty (or bribe) for travelling in reserved coach or book a cab.
We boarded same reserved coach of Magadh Express. I ask a family of four going to Patna “to manage” for next two-hour till Aligarh. The Male member well understood, what I meant when I emphasis on my words “till Aligarh”. After one and half hour ticket checker came, I just said, “Aligarh” he ignored me and start asking other passenger. This man was penalised for travelling in reserved coach. His wife was feeling ashamed. Their daughter stopped playing. This was not an issue of Rs. 500 or 700 but of penalty. Why not railways stop issuing tickets when they have no seat; neither in reserved coaches nor in general coaches. I asked question in my mind, what was his fault. In my estimate, in any given day railway issues more ticket for general coach then its total capacity.
I filed an application under Right to Information Act, 2005 on 6th September 2011. My question was:
- Weekly seating capacity of passenger trains having stoppage at Aligarh Junction (ALJN) and going to: (a) Delhi Junction and (b) New Delhi Station as on 1st July 2009, 1st July 2010 and 1st July 2011. Please provide details category wise (EMU, Express, Superfast, Shatabdi, etc.)
- Weekly details of sale of tickets of above mentioned categories from Aligarh Junction for: (a) Aligarh Junction to Delhi Junction and (b) Aligarh Junction to New Delhi Railway Station for first week of April 2009 to last week of March 2011.
The reply was:
- There are three EMU trains from Aligarh (AD – 1 64101 to Old Delhi, AD – 3 to Old Delhi and AND – 1 64105 to New Delhi). EMU 64101 has 13 bogeys and other two trains have 15 bogeys. Each bogey has about 80 seats. All other trains; Express, Superfast and Shatabdi stop at Aligarh but have no quota at Aligarh Station.
- Summary of ticket sold every month from Aligarh to Delhi and New Delhi station annexed.
Thereafter I filed another application on 6th December 2012. My Question was:
1. Weekly/Monthly seating capacity of passenger trains (in non- reservation general coaches) having stoppage at Aligarh Junction (ALJN) and going to: (a) Delhi Junction, and (b) New Delhi Station as on 1st July 2011 and 1st July 2012. Please provide details category wise (EMU, Express, Superfast, etc.)
2. Weekly/Monthly details of sale of tickets of above mentioned categories (in non- reservation general coaches) form Aligarh Junction for:
(a) Aligarh Junction to Delhi Junction and (b) Aligarh Junction to New Delhi Railway Station for first week of April 2011 to last week of March 2012.
This time also, reply was same.
I analysed the data received through these reply to my applications. Indian railway has total (80 x 15) + (80 x 13) = 2240 seats daily from Aligarh to old Delhi Junction and (80 x 15) = 1200 seats daily from Aligarh to New Delhi. Further, there are 26 intermediate stations on Aligarh – New Delhi line[i] and 24 on Aligarh – Delhi line. Some of passengers are also purchasing their tickets for these stations also and occupy seats from Aligarh.
Now, per my data above, there is only 438,000 seats from Aligarh to New Delhi. Against which Indian railway in 2009 – 10 sold 520,522 tickets, in 2010 – 11 sold 527,589 tickets and in 2011 – 12 sold 551062 tickets. So, there is excess sale of ticket from Aligarh to New Delhi was 82522 (2009 – 10), 89,589 (2010 – 11) and 113,062 (2011 – 12). This excess sale of ticket is increasing from 119% of available seats in 2009 – 10 to 126% in 2011 0 12. Please note these figure do not include monthly season ticket on Aligarh – Delhi and Aligarh – New Delhi route.
Where to accommodate these excess passengers? There are 20 trains including express, superfast and Shatbdi which stop daily at Aligarh and Delhi (including those which terminate at New Delhi, Anand Vihar and pass through)[ii]. When only Aligarh Station sold excess ticket to passengers, other station may also selling excess ticket. I could safely assume there are no vacant seat in general coaches of these to accommodate these passengers. Here, railway plays its profit-making to bribe making game.
Our Indian Railway, never tell any passenger that it has already sold ticket in excess of available capacity. Everyone knows the condition of general coach of every train on Kolkata – Delhi railway line. Passenger has no option but to board in reservation coach, here railway officials welcome him with differential charges and penalty. In other unlikely case, passenger may return his ticket to railway and they will charge a “small” amount of Rs. 10/- which simply come to 20 – 25% of actual fair from Aligarh to New Delhi. This will not be out of context to discuss unaccounted charges to travel in reservation which according to some sources is in range of Rs. 50 – 100/- .
This for year 2011 – 12 translates as under:
- Return of all sold ticket to railway: 113063 x Rs. 10 = Rs. 1,130,630/-
- Journey in reservation and pay penalty: 113063 x Rs. 330 = Rs. 37,310,790/-
- Pay unaccounted money to railway official: 113063 x Rs. 50 = Rs.5,653,150/-
Now, please come back to my main story, as I told in first part of this post. Any person has no problem with paying any such penalty but harassment that he faces is unbearable. When any passenger offers bribe railway official invites him peacefully to a corner on the other side when he offers to pay penalty, he has to face all kind of embarrassment, hard words and third class treatment. All fellow passengers treat him like a trespasser, during his whole journey he felt ashamed. All this was faced by my fellow passenger that day and perhaps by many daily. It is ironical that they forced to assume that paying penalties will be better than paying bribe. I remember my fellow passenger saying later that day, it would be better if railway start charging this penalty at ticket counter itself.