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`Tatkal' scheme becomes unattractive

By T. Ramavarman

THRISSUR, DEC. 16. The `Tatkal' reservation scheme introduced by Railways for passengers who could not plan journey well in advance has lost its sheen following the recent changes made in the scheme.

Under the original scheme, introduced in several trains on May 1, 1998, passengers could book tickets in `tatkal' quota the previous day of their journey by paying Rs. 50 in addition to the ticket fare.

Full fare to be paid

According to the changes that came into effect on November 15, passengers will have to pay an additional sum of Rs. 150 for sleeper class and Rs. 300 for AC coaches. Also, passengers making short-distance journeys on long-distance trains will have to pay the full fare from the starting point to the termination point. For example, a passenger travelling from Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram on the Guruvayur-Chennai (Egmore) Express will have to pay Rs. 507 (fare from Guruvayur to Egmore) to get a reserved sleeper ticket under the tatkal scheme. The actual sleeper class fare for the journey is only Rs. 149, according to Railway sources. Under the earlier Tatkal scheme, passengers had to pay only Rs. 199 for the same distance.

Under the earlier scheme, tatkal seats were allocated in an additional coach. But under the revised scheme, 10 per cent of the seats in all coaches are allocated for the Tatkal scheme, reducing the number of seats available under the regular quota.

The Railways' decision not to insist on identity cards for tatkal passengers has increased the possibility of its misuse. All these changes have made the scheme unattractive for short-distance journeys.

Poor response

The number of tickets booked under the new scheme has come down drastically in most of the trains. In non-peak days, there is hardly any booking for tatkal tickets in the Thrissur-Thiruvananthapuram sector on trains such as Guruvayur-Chennai Express, Kannur Express and Amritha Express. Similarly, there is limited booking on the trains bound for Gujarat and Chennai on non-peak days. The only trains that have full bookings are Kerala Express and Kurla Express.

According to passenger associations, the scheme will be useful only if the Railways reduce the additional fare and charge only the actual fare for tatkal seats.

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