Indian Railways is one of the largest railway networks in the world. It is also the cheapest means of transportation in India. Therefore, it is no wonder that huge number Indians prefer to travel through trains along the length and breadth of this vast country. Add to that the population of our country and you will arrive at the conclusion that the railways would be one of the most overcrowded during peak time and on busy routes.
Therefore, railways have the seat reservation system, so that the passengers will be able to travel comfortably during their journey which could be for a thousand miles literally. Since the cost of railway tickets and you are allowed to book them 120 days in advance of your date of journey (DoJ), many people book them in advance without being sure of their journey.
Earlier, the ticket cancellation charges were very low, therefore, many people used to just book tickets even if they were just 10% sure of their journey. The result was that the people who actually wanted to be on that train didn’t got confirm tickets and had to search for alternate options as they couldn’t wait for the last day. This resulted in many seats going empty which caused heavy loses for the railways.
Therefore, railways introduced a heavy cancellation fee which is divided along various timelines depending on the DoJ. Depending on how early you cancel your tickets before the DoJ, you are charged from 10% to well over 50% of the cost of your ticket. This decision was taken by the railways for a number of reasons.
1] Breaking the Brokers
As you could book the tickets well in advance, there were some people who were known as brokers. These brokers would book tickets in advance and used to sell them to the needy people at very high prices. But now, due to high cancellation charges, they have been discouraged a lot and, therefore, there aren’t any brokers left to take advantage of the people in need.
2] Stop Unnecessary Buyers
As railways allow you to book tickets 120 days in advance, many people used to just book them just as a backup. But due to high cancellation fees, only those people who are pretty sure of their journey, book those tickets in advance. Therefore, the people who actually want to travel get confirmed tickets.
3] Generate Revenue
Railways are generating significant revenue through fees charged for cancellation of tickets. Therefore, as the cancellation charges are high, revenue has been increased. Also, the government also earns a lot through taxes that are charged during ticket booking process because these taxes aren’t refunded when tickets are canceled.
Therefore, even though railways are charging high cancellation fees and it has become a headache for some people, it is only helping the average genuine passenger to secure a seat on the train he wants to travel on.