Rail passengers in India can look forward to better days (achche din) from next year when the new rules on reservation against cancellation (RAC) come into effect; bookings from January 16, 2017 to be precise. The world's fourth-largest rail network will enhance RAC seats in both sleeper class (SL) and air-conditioned (3AC,2AC) coaches.
This will be the second passenger-friendly move announced in the recent past, the first being a slew of incentives for those booking tickets online, as part of the government's drive to encourage digital economy.
A few days ago, the Indian Railways came out with another rule that would reduce fare under certain circumstances for those travelling in Rajdhani /Duronto /Shatabdi trains.
Passengers would get 10 percent rebate based on seats available after the preparation of the first (reservation) chart, according to an update issued on Wednesday by the railway ministry. The details are:
- 10 percent rebate shall be applicable on the base fare of last ticket sold for a particular class and train just before preparation of first chart.
- Reservation fee and superfast charge as applicable shall be levied in full & service tax etc. as applicable shall be levied.
- The last sold price of the ticket for the train should be printed on the reservation chart for the purpose of charging of difference of fare in the train or charging the passengers of the train without ticket etc.
- 10 percent discount shall also be applicable for allotment of vacant berths (due to non-turned up passengers) in the train by TTEs.
The Indian Railways is also embarking on re-developing its stations in select cities, in tandem with the Smart City Project. In the initial phase, A-1 and A category stations would be taken up.
As is already known, there won't be any separate rail budget from next year; the provisions and details will be incorporated in the general budget presented by the finance minister. The Budget 2017 is likely to be placed before the Parliament on February 1 by Arun Jaitley.
A spate of accidents in the past few months — the latest being on December 28 when 61 passengers sustained injuries after 15 coaches of the Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailed near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh early morning, preceded by another tragedy in November killing about 150 people — has raised questions on the safety of trains in India's rail network that ferries about 23 million passengers everyday.