Indian Railways now berths 44 crore passengers. 2 Cr Passengers also opt for insurance cover

Number of reserved berths in passenger trains up by 20% in last two years. 2 crore train passengers also opt for rail insurance cover!

train-berths-and-reservationsThe Railways, which is just days away from the Diwali passenger rush — among the densest anywhere in the world, has managed to keep some part of its promise of a confirmed ticket for every passenger by 2020. It has managed to increase the number of confirmed berths available annually on its trains from 37.1 crore in 2014 to 44.7 crore in 2016. This is a jump of over 20 per cent. To put matters into perspective, the 44.7 crore figure is bigger than the population of all countries in the world other than China and India.

The huge jump in berths has come about because of the increase in number of trains run over the past couple of years. Statistics available with the railway ministry show that over the last two years, it ran a whopping 70,000 special trains. Moreover, during this period it introduced 308 new trains, extended 99 trains, increased the frequency per week (fpw) of 188 trains and permanently added 1,610 coaches to various trains. The Railways ran a little over 2.5 lakh extra coach trips in the past two years, ministry data shows.

According to data from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report of June this year, between 2010 to 2015, the total number of passengers carried by the Railways was 3,054 crore of which 829 crore were non-suburban passengers. This comes to around 165.8 crore per year, though a sizable part of this number would be travelling in unreserved coaches, said officials.

Good intentions apart, it is not going to be a smooth ride for the ‘confirmed seat on demand’ mission, agreed officials, because as the economy grows and along with it income, newer passengers would want to travel in higher—sleeper and air-conditioned—classes. A study of the passengers carried over one kilometre (called PKM in railway operation terminology) shows that for every 100 passengers carried over a kilometre, 25 passengers travel by sleeper class, and 65 per cent by unreserved coaches. The rest travel by higher classes like First or Executive chair car.

Moreover, the recently-announced Regional Air-Connectivity Scheme (RACS), announced by the Civil Aviation Ministry could take over a decade before it starts reducing railway passenger numbers for the better. “The number of seats available on a daily basis on the Railways to the ‘Y’ cities is so much higher than what any regional connectivity airline can match at least in the next few years,” explained a railway official.

Under government classifications, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad Hyderabad and Pune are ‘X’ cities, the rest divided into Y and smaller urban agglomerations into Z categories.

2 crore passengers opt for rail insurance cover

More than two crore passengers have opted for the rail insurance scheme since the facility was launched in September this year.

We have got a good response to the optional insurance scheme as more than two crore passengers have availed the facility so far, said a senior IRCTC official.

According to the data provided by the Railways, 20,763,353 passengers have opted for the insurancecover till October 30.

The facility, which was announced in the Railway Budget 2016-17, allows a passenger to get an insurance cover of up to Rs 10 lakh on booking a train ticket online by paying just 92 paise.

As part of the ‘Diwali bonanza’, IRCTC had reduced the cover price from 92 paisa to just one paisa from October 7 till Diwali.

From October 31, it has been restored to 92 paisa as announced earlier, said the official.

While about 5.5 lakh travellers book their tickets online daily, only around 3.5 lakh are opting for the insurance cover, he said.

The scheme offers travellers or their families compensation of up to Rs 10 lakh in the event of death or permanent total disability, Rs 7.5 lakh for permanent partial disability, up to Rs 2 lakh for hospitalisation expenses and Rs 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains in the event of death or injury from a train accident or other untoward incident, including terrorist attacks, dacoity, rioting, shoot-out or arson, as well as for short termination, diverted route and Vikalp trains.

The facility is available for all rail passengers who book the e-ticket, excluding sub-urban trains and irrespective of the class of the ticket. The premium amount is automatically added to the ticket fare if the passenger opts for the insurance.

The scheme is being implemented by IRCTC in partnership with ICICI Lombard, Royal Sundaram and Shriram General.

The claim and liability is between the passenger and the insurance company. In the event of death due to accident, 100 per cent of the sum insured will be paid by the company.

Those wanting coverage for children below five years of age have to furnish details of the child at the time of booking and accordingly travel insurance premium is added to the total amount payable.



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