Experts believe that the railway ministry will have to dole out some kind of incentives such as better facilities or cashback like that of the Ujjwala scheme, to convince passengers to give up the subsidy
Indian Railways is currently working on a system that will enable people booking long-distance tickets to not buy a ticket at a subsidised rate. Two options for purchasing rail tickets may soon be available – ‘purchase ticket without subsidy’ and ‘purchase ticket with subsidy’. Those opting to purchase a ticket without subsidy will have to bear a higher fare.
A senior railway official said that every passenger is provided blanket subsidy as of now, which amounts to an added expense of Rs 35,000 crore every year. This cost could be scaled down relatively under the new ‘Give It Up’ scheme, reported DNA.
This subsidy doesn’t include the concessions provided to senior citizens, students, cancer patients, and defence personnel, to name a few.
The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Railways, will be changing the settings of the IRCTC software so that the 'without subsidy' option shows up on their website.
Meanwhile, to exhort people to renounce the subsidy provided, massive awareness campaigns have been planned for both digital and traditional media platforms, alongside the Railways' announcement systems.
Commenting on the move, PC Sehgal, ex-chairman and managing director, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, said: “People usually don’t want to give up the concession. So, the railways have to explore options such as increasing fares, which has not been done in a long time. The revision is necessary to bear operational and maintenance expenses and fund multiple modernisation projects.”
However, experts believe that the railway ministry will have to dole out some kind of incentives such as better facilities or cashback like that of the Ujjwala scheme, to convince passengers to give up the subsidy.
Speaking on this, Vivek Sahai, ex-chairman of Railway Board, said: “If they want people to volunteer to give up the subsidy, they should come out with something like Jan Dhan Yojana for giving up the LPG subsidy.”
A few passenger associations have backed the plan as it is a pro-development measure. For instance, Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad said, “A certain section of passengers feel they can do away with subsidy. This is a good move. Madhu Kotian, member of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh, also approved of the scheme saying many people won’t mind paying more if that guarantees better amenities.Notably, the Railways only recovers 53 percent of the travel cost from the passengers, while the rest of it is covered by the said subsidy.