Indian Railways will forgo around Rs 1,490 crore in revenue as it is refunding the amount towards cancellation of a whopping 94 lakh ticket bookings made by passengers prior to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Top Railways officials told PTI that an amount of Rs 830 crore will be refunded for 55 lakh bookings made for travel between March 22 and April 14. The Railways had largely suspended its passenger train services on March 22, three days before the 21-day lockdown came into force.
Another amount of Rs 660 crore will be returned for around 39 lakh bookings made for travel between April 15 and May 3, they said.
India went under a total shutdown of 21 days from March 25 to April 14. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced extending the lockdown till May 3.
The Railways had not stopped bookings for journeys beginning April 15.
It said that all passengers will get a full refund for tickets booked for the period during which passenger train services have been suspended.
The national transporter added that the money would be automatically refunded to online customers, while those who booked tickets at the designated reservation counters could claim the refund till July 31.
Following the prime minister's announcement, the Indian Railways extended the suspension of all its passenger services till the end of the lockdown.
According to official data, a staggering 20 million people travel daily on nearly 15,000 passenger trains across the country.
The Railways said no advance reservation of train tickets, including e-tickets, will be allowed till further orders, though the facility of online cancellation will remain functional.
However, people on social media said that the Railways has deducted the convenience fee per online booking while making the refunds.
"When train is cancelled, the passenger is refunded full fare. Convenience fees is not refunded which are nominal to an individual and used for day-to-day maintenance and upgradation of the ticketing facility," the railways explained in a statement.
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The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) charges nominal convenience fee of Rs 15 per ticket for booking non AC travel and Rs 30 for air conditioned and first class tickets.
"A full refund will also be there for those cancelling advance bookings for trains not cancelled yet," the national transporter said.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, on an average, around 8.5 lakh tickets were booked on the IRCTC website daily.
After the prime minister's announcement of a 21-day lockdown across the country, the railways had announced suspension of all passenger services till April 14.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.