As a COVID-led nationwide lockdown last year brought passenger trains to a halt and freight trains to the minimum, the Indian Railways’ (IR) earnings from platform tickets took a severe hit in financial year 2020-21. Revenue from this avenue plunged about 94% vis-à-vis the previous year, said a PTI report.
In response to an RTI (Right to Information Act) query from Chandra Shekhar Gaur of Madhya Pradesh, the Railways said it had earned ₹10 crore till February in 2020-21 through platform ticket sales. In contrast, in 2019-20, it had earned ₹160.87 crore, which had also marked its highest earning from platform tickets in five years.
While the nationwide lockdown, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took off on March 24 night, the IR took steps to curb overcrowding at railway stations even ahead of that.
Measures to curb crowds
The divisional railway managers are empowered to decide on the rate of platform tickets and on whether to restrict entry, said the PTI. In line with this, several Railway zones completely cut off entry to non-passengers and allowed only valid ticket holders on the platform. This practice was retained even after the lockdown was lifted, for most of the year.
To further dissuade non-travellers from visiting the railway station, the platform ticket prices were hiked from ₹10 to ₹30 and even ₹50 each in some zones. This was a temporary measure to avoid crowds during the pandemic.
The PTI said revenue from platform tickets had been around ₹131 crore over the years. In increased to ₹139.20 crore in 2018-19, and ₹160 crore in 2019-20, before falling to ₹10 crore in 2020-21.
Late last week, the Northern Railways — the largest zone — said it would restart the sale of platform tickets at eight major stations in the Delhi Division. The rates have been hiked to ₹30 each to prevent crowding.
The severe restrictions on train travel also meant there was a steep decrease in ticketless travel last year.
The response to the RTI query raised by Gaur also revealed that over 27 lakh people were caught travelling ticketless on trains in 2021-21. This was less than 25% of the number of cases recorded the previous financial year.
Between April 2020 and March 2021, 27.57 lakh people were caught travelling ticketless and ₹143.82 crore was levied as a fine on them. In 2019-20, 1.10 crore people were caught travelling ticketless and faced a fine of ₹561.73 crore.