Ticketless train passengers at the Ernakulam Junction were in for a surprise when a posse of railway officials swooped down on them on Thursday.

The mega drive conducted by the commercial wing of the railways along with the Railway Protection Force and the Government Railway Police to nab those travelling without tickets netted a fine of Rs.1.68 lakh.

The drive led by Arun Thomas, assistant commercial manager, Thiruvananthapuram railway division, booked 428 passengers without tickets besides those travelling with inadequate or irregular travel papers.

Mostly women

Interestingly, the majority of the ticketless passengers were women and all of them were Malayalis.

The drive started with the arrival of Dhanbad Express from Alappuzha at 7 a.m. It lasted five hours during the course of which the trains operating within the State and those having halt at the station were covered.

The drive was held based on the realisation that a section of the passengers were using to their advantage the largely ineffective on-board checking of tickets owing to the shortage of hands. Those without platform tickets were not covered in the drive.