In what is seen as the beginning of the end of ‘patronage raj’, the Indian Railways have decided to disallow sitting and former MPs and MLAs to book berths in more than one train for a single journey.
Lawmakers, permitted free train travel, at times block berths in several trains for a single journey while keeping their options open. “Since the MPs/MLAs cancel tickets at the last hour, ordinary passengers who pay for such travel are often unable to avail the facility of travelling in higher classes such as AC-I and AC-II. This leads to revenue losses to the cash-strapped public transporter,” an official said.
The Railways bears an estimated annual burden of ‘ 500 crore for the grant of 52 categories of free or concessional travel to different groups of passengers, including freedom fighters, sportspersons, doctors, students, musicians/artists, rail employees and mediapersons.