Taking a cue from the petroleum ministry, Indian Railways
is set to launch a ‘Give-It-Up’ campaign to travellers for letting go of the subsidy
on train tickets.
A similar mission launched by the Ministry of Petroleum was a hit, with 10.5 million liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-consuming households opting out of the subsidy, saving about Rs 4,000 crore for the government.
A senior railway official said, “The scheme will be launched soon. Passengers will have the option to forgo either 100 per cent of the subsidy
or 50 per cent or to avail of the subsidy.
It will be a voluntary decision.”
The idea reportedly came to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
when an Avtar Krishen Kher sent back a cheque in the name of IRCTC for the differential amount of the actual fare and the subsidy, around Rs 950 for his trip. The national transporter recovers only close to 57 per cent of the cost of travel on each ticket; on suburban tickets, it comes to around 40 per cent. This has led to an annual subsidy
burden of about Rs 30,000 crore for the railways. “We expect people who are well off to forgo the subsidy, as details of this are already printed on tickets,” the official said.
This scheme will be available for all passengers. The railways is in talks with two financial institutions, one being the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, on ways to reduce its subsidy
burden. This is part of a move to run the railways on a more corporate mode, subsequent to the Bibek Debroy committee report in 2015.
The railways had posted its worst operating ratio in 16 years at 96.9 per cent in 2016-17. This was attributed to the social burden and the pay commission impact. It has also appointed an international consultancy entity to devise a performance index other than the operating ratio.