A new racket has cropped up to the utter discomfiture of the Railways — “insured ticketless travelling”.
The desperation of the Railways to rake in more revenue by raising ticket fares has apparently resulted in a racket in which a section of the hapless commuters have sought refuge.
Top Railway officials said some touts have floated an “insurance scheme” which guarantees the commuter ticketless travel for a monthly premium of about Rs. 100, guarding the commuter against any inspection by the Railway authorities or the police.
If the ticketless traveller is nabbed, sponsors of the racket pay the charges. The subscriber goes scot free without bearing any additional burden.
This racket is mostly prevalent among suburban daily commuters — office-goers and students — apparently affected by the high charges of the daily or seasonal tickers. The racket flourishes on the premise that officials and police cannot check all travellers and those caught are fewer in number and way below the actual number of passengers subscribing to the illegal insurance scheme being operated by groups of goons.
Officials, however, are tight lipped over any complicity of the Railway staff in the proliferation of the scam by acknowledging the illegal coupons issued by the fraudsters.
The Railways are concerned with the sudden drop in passengers in absolute terms by about two to three per cent mostly in the non-reserved suburban commuters in the first half of the current fiscal year in comparison to the corresponding period a year ago.
The drop in number of passengers has been perceptible in 12 of the 16 zonal Railways across the country.
As not to aggravate the situation further, the Railways avoided slapping the fuel adjustment component on suburban passengers travelling on local trains up to 150km, be it by way of daily tickets or monthly seasonal tickets. Even in mail and express trains, a revision was not considered prudent up to 35km.
The Railways have also stepped up their campaign to check passengers travelling without tickets which also aims at creating awareness among them to travel as authorised passengers and not to violate the rules.