The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) on Friday issued a clarification on some media reports about higher prices being charged from people travelling in passenger trains for small distances.

In the clarification issued on Friday, NFR chief public relations officer Subhanan Chanda said “these slightly higher fares for passenger and other short-distance trains had been introduced to discourage people from avoidable travels and those which are not most necessary”.

“These fares are fixed at unreserved price of mail/ express trains for the same distance,” the NFR CPRO said.

Stating that “Covid is still around and in fact worsening in some states”, Chanda said, “Visitors from many states are being subjected to screening in other areas and discouraged to travel.”

“Little higher price is be seen as proactive measure of Railways to prevent crowding in trains and stop Covid from spreading,” he added.

The Indian Railways had to stop running of regular trains due to Covid related nationwide lockdown on March 22, 2020 as a measure to counter the spread of Coronavirus.

“Indian Railways is constantly increasing the number of passenger carrying trains in a graded manner. Full restoration of regular services of passenger trains, to pre-Covid times, is to be considered keeping in view a range of factors and operational circumstances,” the NFR official said.

During challenging times of Covid, Indian Railways has “operationalized almost 65% of the Mail/Express trains and over 90% of suburban services as compared to the pre-lockdown times”.

A total of 1250 Mail/Express, 5350 suburban services and more than 326 passenger trains are presently in operation average on a daily basis.

“Short distance passenger trains running presently constitute less than 3% of total trains. More such trains are in the pipeline in consultation with the state governments. Such short distance trains require interstate discussions and concurrence of all concerned,” Chanda said.

Keeping in view the prevailing COVID situation, after introduction of Mail/Express trains, Railways is gradually operationalizing passenger trains taking all necessary precautions and making additional efforts.

“Health situation of states and the views of the state governments, etc. need to be taken in into account before getting into normal operations,” he said.

“Passenger operations have always been subsidized by railways. Normally, Railways bears a loss on every journey by a passenger,” the NFR official claimed.

He added, “Railways have been running trains in Covid times in most challenging circumstances. Many trains are being run in spite of low occupancy for the benefit of people.”

In all the trains that are being run, besides other classes, the trains have a large number of 2S class coaches which have the lowest fare in the reserved category.

“40% of the passengers have travelled in 2S class in much better travelling conditions than pre-Covid, unreserved travelling situations,” Chanda said.

“With a view to regulate rush at stations and in trains, passenger trains are being charged slightly more fare than pre-Covid times and a close watch is being kept on its patronisation. The situation is being constantly monitored to ensure restoration of services in keeping with the protocols necessary to be followed during Covid times,” Chanda added.

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