Indian Railways has earned as much as Rs 1,407 crore in just one year, 2016-2017, from cancellation charges of reserved tickets. According to Ministry of Railways figures, this amount was 25.29% higher than the previous year’s earnings under the same head. In 2015-16, the Railways earned Rs 1,123 crore, while in 2014-15, this amount was Rs 908 crore.
Railways is also earning money from the cancellation of unreserved tickets. In this segment, it earned Rs 17.87 crore in 2016-17, Rs 17.23 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 14.72 crore in 2014-15.
It must be noted that the government amended the rules related to refunds made on cancelled tickets in November 2015. As a result, cancellation charges have been doubled almost. If a confirmed ticket is cancelled up to four hours before departure, it will lead to a 50% cancellation charge. Similarly, if the confirmed ticket is cancelled between 48 hours and 12 hours before departure, it will lead to a cancellation charge of 25%. However, the government has provided relief to passengers who have RAC tickets (Reservation against Cancellation) or waitlisted tickets.
According to a Railways official, a full refund of the fare after deducting “clerkage” charges for RAC, waitlisted and partially confirmed tickets, has been introduced if the tickets are submitted for refund up to 30 minutes before the train’s scheduled departure.
In yet another relief, if a passenger does not undertake the journey due to the late running of trains by more than three hours of the scheduled departure, no cancellation charge or “clerkage” charge is levied. In such cases, the full fare is refunded to the passengers, irrespective of whether they possess confirmed, RAC or waitlisted tickets.
The official said, rules have been amended to check bogus claims, to facilitate the provision of mobile ticketing, as well as paperless ticketing, and discourage last minute cancellations, resulting in seats or berths going vacant. The amendment in refund rules became necessary to adapt to changes in the ticketing system.
The official said that the reservation charts are now prepared at least four hours in advance, so that one can go for ticket reservation until 30 minutes before a train departs.
Railways recently introduced a scheme, as a pilot project, wherein one can book e-tickets online and make payments after 15 days through “ePaylater”, powered by Arthashastra Fintech Pvt Ltd. Under this scheme, a customer has the option to pay after 15 days of booking an e-ticket through the IRCTC website. The service charge levied on using “ePaylater” scheme is 3.50% of the transaction amount and applicable taxes.