The ministry of railways explained on Wednesday that it has imposed "slightly higher fares" in short-distance commuter trains after they resumed service following the shutdown to "discourage needless travel."
Since the lock-down restrictions were relaxed, the national carrier is now only running special commuter trains. Since March 25, 2020, regular commuter trains have been cancelled.
Railway Ministry told that, “As special provisions for Covid-19, the fares of these trains have been fixed at unreserved price of mail/express trains for the same distance”.
Regular passengers who are experiencing the sting of fare increases have chastised the Railways, which has now started local train services. A ticket from Amritsar to Pathankot, for example, now costs ₹55, while it used to cost ₹25. Similarly, a passenger DMU ticket between Jalandhar city railway station and Ferozpur now costs ₹60, up from ₹30 previously.
Statement from Ministry of Railways said, “Railways would like to inform that these slightly higher fares for passenger and other short distance trains had been introduced to discourage people from avoidable travels and those which are not most necessary. Covid-19 is still around and in fact worsening in some states. Visitors from many states are being subjected to screening in other areas and discouraged to travel. Little higher price is to be seen as a proactive measure of Railways to prevent crowding in trains and stop Covid-19 from spreading”.
In comparison to pre-lockdown times, the Railways have operationalized about 65 percent of Mail/Express trains and over 90 percent of suburban services.
On a daily basis, a total of 1250 Mail/Express, 5350 suburban services, and more than 326 passenger trains are in operation. According to a statement from the ministry, short-distance commuter trains account for less than 3% of overall rail traffic.
The Covid-19-related national lockdown placed on March 22, 2020 as a precaution to fight the spread of Coronavirus forced the railways to halt daily train service.
The number of passenger-carrying trains on the railways is gradually growing. Full restoration of passenger train services to pre-Covid levels should be viewed in light of a variety of conditions and operating circumstances.
With the current Covid-19 scenario in mind, Railways are increasingly operationalizing passenger trains after introducing Mail/Express trains, taking all required precautions and putting in extra effort. Railways have always subsidised passenger activities. Normally, any passenger journey results in a loss for Railways, according to the ministry.