English News – Come New Year, travelling by train on RAC (reservation against cancellation) tickets will get more taxing. Starting January 16, those with RAC tickets will have to travel being seated throughout the journey, short or long, in most of the trains in India.
Their tickets will not be confirmed with a full-berth allocation in case of a cancellation, as is the practice now. It means, if you get an RAC status at the time of reservation, your ticket status will remain unchanged till the end of the journey.
Besides, the Railways has also tactfully changed the berth allocation practice for children within the age group of 5-12 years. The full fare has to be paid now in case the child requires a seat. Else, you need to pay half the price but without any seat. Earlier, half fare for children in the age group was charged with a full-berth allocation.
The new measure will be applicable only in trains with non-LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches and will not affect those like Rajdhanis/Shatabadis/Durontos with LHB coaches, where the existing system will continue.
With a majority of trains in India having non-LHB coaches, sources said the move will surely inconvenience passengers. The Railways, however, argued that this step will actually accommodate more travellers by virtue of increase in number of RAC berths and help it earn an additional Rs 1,500 crore annually.
“The revised allocation of seats would increase the chances of waitlisted passengers to get RAC seats. More than 50 per cent of trains run with 24 coaches (maximum permitted number). Each train has 13 to 15 sleeper coaches. The revised allocation would add a minimum of 35 to 40 passengers in all the classes,” said a senior railway official.
Officials said berths, which remain vacant in the intermediate stations on several long distance routes, even after catering to all the RAC passengers, will get filled under the new arrangement. This decision, however, has now reduced the chances of senior citizens and pregnant women getting side lower berths.
“At least, some of the waitlisted passengers would get seating arrangements if they at all need to travel. If an RAC gets cancelled, then the next waitlisted ticket would get an opportunity to jump into the RAC and hence he or she can travel,” explained a senior railway official.
Currently, there are five RAC berths in Sleeper coaches, which have been increased to seven and as a result 14 passengers can be accommodated instead of 10 only.
In the 3AC coaches, there were only two RAC berths which have been increased to four to accommodate total eight passengers instead of four earlier. For the 2AC coaches, RAC berths have been increased to three from the existing two. Now six passengers can be accommodated in 2AC instead of four only.
The latest move will come on the heels of those like the recently-introduced flexi-fare system in Rajdhani and Shatbadi for its half-vacant seats, which were offered on the pattern of dynamic fare system in airlines. It also did not yield the desired results.
In fact, worried over poor occupancy in some Shatabdi trains, the Railways on Monday withdrew the flexi-fare system in certain sections of Ajmer and Mysore Shatabdi service. “Instead, it has been decided to give discounted fare in AC Chair Car in selected sectors of New Delhi-Ajmer Shatabdi Express and Chennai Central – Mysore Shatabdi Express,” said a senior Railway Ministry official. Other surcharge, if applicable shall be levied separately. The decision will be implemented from December 20.
Railways also did away with revoking of concessions of NRI senior citizens earning lot of criticism for its decisions which resulted in very miniscule financial gains in passenger earnings for the railways.