Despite the severe restriction on entry at the railway station without confirmed tickets in view of the coronavirus pandemic, over 27 lakh people were caught travelling on trains on trains ticketless in the fiscal, an RTI query has revealed.
This was, however, less than 25 per cent of the number of cases recorded the previous financial year and that is attributable to the restrictions imposed to the previous financial year and that is attributable to the restrictions imposed to check the COVID-19 contagion, say officials.
The data made available by the Railway Board following an RTI query made by Madhya Pradesh based activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur showed that between April 2020 and March 2021, 27.57 lakh people were caught travelling ticketless, and Rs 143.82 crore levied as a fine from them. In 2019-2020 fiscal, 1.10 crore people were caught travelling ticketless and in total, a fine of Rs 561.73 was realized from them.
“Traveling ticketless or with an unauthorized ticket is the long-standing challenge before the Indian Railways. On its part, the Railways makes informative, educative, and punitive measures to discourage people from doing the same,” said Railway spokesperson D J Narain.
The 2020-2021 financial year was the period when the Railways ran the least number of passenger trains in its history due to the coronavirus pandemic and there was a severe restriction on the movement of people inside railway premises, including non-issuance of platform tickets.
In June last year, the Railways began running special trains and issued strict guidelines e-ticketing through IRCTC website or mobile App, no tickets booking at reservation counter, only passengers with confirmed tickets to be allowed entry at station and screening to be done before boarding with only asymptomatic passengers allowed to enter the train.
“The number of without ticket cases in 2020-21 (27.57 lakh) was less than 25 per cent number of such cases detected in 2019-20 when such figure was 1.10 crore. This was feasible due to wide publicity efforts by railways to create awareness and to discourage irregular travel,” Narain said.
Currently, the Railways is running 809 special Mail Express trains on an average per day, 2,891 suburban services, 26 special trains being operated as clones of highly patronized trains, and 403 passenger services.