Train ticket booking on Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is set to cost more from Sunday, with the Indian Railways re-introducing services charges on its e-tickets. In a bid to encourage digital payments, the service charges were revoked by the authorities following the announcement of demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016.
As per the new provision, a service charge of Rs 15 will be levied on sleeper class tickets while for AC classes, a charge of Rs 30 would be applicable. Previously, the services charges on non-AC and AC classes were Rs 20 and Rs 40, respectively.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be applicable separately on each ticket.
An Indian Railways official was quoted by news agency IANS as saying that the IRCTC witnessed a drop of over 26 per cent in Internet ticketing revenue after the services charges were done away with.
Earlier, sources had told Zee Media that the Union Finance Ministry had written a letter to the Railways department, asking it to use its discretion on levying service charge on booking online tickets.
The move was necessiated after the Finance Ministry expressed its inability to provide Rs 88 crore that the ticketing arm had to bear after withdrawal of service charges on booking e-tickets.
The sources said that the Finance Ministry had assured Railways that it would compensate for the losses that the ticketing arm had to bear owing to the decision to remove service charges after demonetisation.
Following this, a final decision on bringing the service charges back was taken at an IRCTC Board meeting.
While the move might trouble some passengers, another recent announcement by the India Railways is certain to bring some relief. The Indian Railways has announced discounted fare scheme of up to 25 per cent for AC chair car and Executive class chair car accommodation in trains like Shatabdi, Gatimaan, Tejas, Double Decker, Intercity, among others.