Ticketless Travel - A Perspective

by P V S Praveen, November 2002

Hi Folks,

I doubt whether this topic had been discussed b4 on this forum. Anyway, to start off, I would like to share with u all the menace of ticket less travel in IR Trains, and suggestions to tackle the same.

Ticket less travel, undoubtedly is one of the biggest menace faced by the Indian Railways, causing substantial losses to its passenger services. In spite of the fact that Second Class Railway Fares continue to be heavily subsidized, and are much cheaper than other modes of transport, ticket less travel continues to increase day by day. In this context, I would like to quote some classic incidents of 'en masse' ticket less travel, which continue to occur with a disturbing regularity.

  • On the Nandyal - Donakonda section of the South Central Railways, especially at a station called Cumbum, a huge group of woodcutters clamber on to any available passenger train, without purchasing any tickets. Thanks to this, many a passenger train has been held up in this section.
  • Every Friday & Saturday witnesses a huge crowd of devotees moving en-masse to & from Gooty, from their respective places, which might be as far as 150 to 200 Kilometers. And all they pay is a pathetic Rs 10/- as the to & fro fare - a pathetic case of "legal" ticketless traveling.
  • Whenever a rally/demonstration/dharna is organized/staged in any state capital or the national capital, all the trains going in that direction are choc-a-bloc with the rallyists, most of who, would not bother to purchase tickets. They occupy reserved compartments with ease, and the genuine passengers are put to major inconvenience. Even the higher classes such as AC and First Class are not spared. In a recent development, the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a Student's Body), is holding a massive rally in New Delhi, to try to influence the Centre on some of its policies relating to employment. ABVP activities are converging on November 24th and 25th at Delhi, from all over India. And obviously, their mode of transport would be our own Indian Railways. And I am 95% sure; they would not purchase any tickets. The Secretary of one of the regional units of ABVP, in Andhra Pradesh, has urged the passengers traveling by the Andhra Pradesh Express and Dakshin Express on the 23rd & 24th November, to "co-operate" with the ABVP activists by canceling their reservations, so that the ABVP folks can travel to NDLS "unhindered" by the ordinary mortals.
  • In the suburban sections of the Eastern & South Eastern Railways too, ticket less travel is rampant. Any attempt by the Railways to check ticket less travel, by introducing special squads etc, is met with violent protests, with the station & other railway property, being targeted by the mob. There is one silver lining though. The Poorva express (2303up/2381up) going to NDLS from HWH, has an efficient ticket checking squad, at least in the reserved compartments.
  • As far as Bihar and parts of eastern UP are concerned, the less said the better. In fact, not long ago, when one of the DRMs of a Bihar Railway Division deputed special squads to conduct ticket checking, he subsequently got a call from one of the higher-ups of the civil administration, asking him to stop the checks as they were causing "law & order" problems!!!!
  • The existence of illegal halts like "Ambedkar Halt", "Laloo Halt" etc compounds the matter further.
  • Passenger trains on any section for that matter, are the worst. Not many would bother to buy tickets on passenger trains.

What can be done to solve this problem? Some of my suggestions:

  • On an experimental basis, introduce "conductors" in unreserved compartments. They can issue tickets to the passengers, if they have not bought any, either knowingly, or simply because of lack of time, to buy the ticket. Of course, one conductor won't suffice. At least two should be deputed, and if the need arises, the no. can be increased.
  • Increase ticket checking, by forming a team comprising TTEs + armed RPF constables. Central Railway has taken a right step in this direction, by introducing "Tejaswini" Checking squads - a group of Lady TTEs accompanied by Woman RPF Constables.
  • Set up temporary ticket vending booths on the platform, near the unreserved compartments, so that passengers coming in at the last minute can purchase their tickets.