Every day, an average 45,000 to 50,000 passengers with confirmed reservations miss boarding their trains across the country, giving the Indian Railways a windfall of Rs 2.5 crore daily, or anywhere between Rs 700 to 900 crore annually.
This revelation came in response to an RTI application to the Ministry of Railway.
The data suggests that about 18 lakh to 20 lakh people travel against confirmed reservations in the country every day, out of which about 45,000 to 50,000, or 2.5 per cent, fail to report on time.
A zonal-wise break-up of 2017 data shows that West Central Railway zones recorded the highest percentage, i.e., 4.2 while the North Eastern Railway had the lowest – 1.3 per cent – of such passengers.
“When people don’t report to the Travel Ticket Examiner (TTE) in the train against their reservations after it departs from the station, he makes a list of such people as ‘not reported’ and submits it to the commercial department of the respective divisions,” informs a railway official.
He further says that the respective zones maintain the data for six months with details of the individuals who miss their trains. However, the absolute number is sent to Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) which archives the same.
Talking about the rules regarding ‘not reported’ or ‘not turned up’ berths, a train ticket examiner says that first priority is given to RAC (reservation against cancellation) passengers.
“If there is no RAC passenger, then we allot the berth to passengers on the waiting list,” he says.
He adds, “Sometimes if there is no passenger with the ‘waiting status’, we allot it to someone who is travelling without reservation or without ticket etc.
So different situations emerge and we deal with it as per the rules.”
TTEs admit that vacant berths often become good source of additional income for them as passengers are ready to bribe them in getting priority in allotment.
Senior officials from various railway zones agree that the number would have been higher if all the trains ran on right time. “Delay in departure saves many people,” admits an official from East Central Railway.
They also admit that people who miss their trains turn out to be a huge money spinner for railway.
“According to a rough estimation, railways’ daily earning from such passengers is over 2.5 crore due to the change in the refund rule in 2015,” says an official from CRIS.
Before 2015, a passenger could claim 50 per cent of refund up to 2 hours before actual departure of the train but on November 12, 2015, the new rules was implemented according to which a passenger can claims 50 per cent of refund between 12 hours and 4 hours before the scheduled departure of the train.
“We depart from the rule and consider refund in such cases where people have missed their trains due to unforeseen circumstances such as natural calamity, flood, some violent political protest leading to jam etc,” informs a railway official.