Many pay through their nose for train journey

An old man was in shock as the lady at the ticket counter in Hassan railway station on Friday morning said the ticket to Arsikere would cost him ₹300. The passenger wondered, “Why ₹300 for a 40-km journey?”

The lady at the counter responded, “As you have not booked the ticket in advance, you will have to pay an excess ₹250, besides the actual travel fare.”

Rajamma, 72, a resident of Hassan, had to attend the funeral of a relative in Shivamogga. She paid ₹350 to travel by Mysuru–Talaguppa Express, as against the actual price of ₹100.

With no public transport owing to the KSRTC employees’ strike, hundreds of passengers are forced to travel by train paying excess amount. Those who could not book tickets in advance are paying the heavy price.

The Ministry of Railways stopped issuing tickets across counters at stations following the COVID-19 pandemic. Passengers are encouraged to book in advance online.

Excess fare ticket

The staff issue a handwritten excess fare ticket, in which the excess fare is mentioned.

“Even private buses are not charging this amount. With no alternative, we are forced to pay more,” said another old man who purchased two tickets to Shivamogga by paying ₹700.

A staff member at the station, when enquired by The Hindu, said excess fare is collected from those who buy ticket at the counter. This has been in practice since the COVID-19 lockdown. “The excess fare is same as the fine collected for travelling without a ticket,” the staff member added.

Many passengers demanded the Railways stop collecting the excess fare. “We have to depend on trains as KSRTC employees are on strike. The Ministry of Railways should understand the difficulties and charge only the actual fare,” demanded B. Manjunath, a resident of Hassan.

‘As per guidelines’

The Railways, however, said the excess fare collection was as per the guidelines of the Railway Board.

The Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of Mysuru Division of South Western Railway, Manjunath, told The Hindu that tickets with regular fares would be issued across the counter till half an hour before the arrival of a particular train at the station if berths/seats were available.

Those walking into the station after this cut-off period would have to be treated as those travelling without ticket and be charged for ticket-less travel along with regular fare, Mr. Manjunath said.

Asked whether the Railways could not waive this excess fare on humanitarian grounds in view of the ongoing strike by KSRTC employees, Mr. Manjunath said it was not possible. The vigilance wing would take action against officers concerned if the rules were bypassed, he said.

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