Indian Railways restores ticket booking for circular journey 13 months after withdrawal

After 13 months since withdrawal, the Railway department has reinstated the facility to book tickets for circular journey recently.

CHENNAI: After 13 months since withdrawal, the Railway department has reinstated the facility to book tickets for circular journey recently. However, it has also extended the five per cent GST for sleeper class circular tickets as well.

Until June 30 last year,  the circular journey ticket enabled passengers to avail long-distance travels to multiple destinations at lesser ticket fares, without any inconvenience of booking the tickets at each station. Eight break journeys are allowed in a circular ticket.

The passengers were charged a single fare for the entire trip, rather than separate fares for each journey. The travel length was divided into two single journeys, each having half of the length of the total travel. Then, telescopic fare was charged for each single journey, thereby benefiting thousands of pilgrims and tourists.

From July 1, citing technical constraints in assessing the five per cent GST for AC class tickets as a result of the implementation of GST, the Railways discontinued circular journey tickets.

Recently, the Railway Board, apex body of the Railways, issued directions clarifying the methodology to be adopted for calculating the GST for circular tickets. “All circular journey ticket passengers shall be treated as unregistered customers as far as applicability of GST is concerned,” reads the board order.

The order further stated that five percent GST would be imposed on the total fare of the ticket regardless of the classes. “Earlier, 5 per cent GST was imposed for the AC and first-class tickets.

To eliminate shortcomings in assessing the fares, sleeper class tickets are also brought under the GST ambit only for circular journey,” explained a senior railway official, quoting the railway board directive. The zonal railways have been directed to issue circular from the first week of September.

The move is expected to provide huge relief to passengers who go on pilgrimage between October and December. Particularly, passengers travelling to Rameswaram, Kasi, Varanasi and Rishikesh can book tickets comfortably at one leg instead of booking the tickets at each locations.

Rail passengers can take a maximum of eight breaks during the a single circular journey for a travel distance of minimum 1,500 km and maximum up to 10,000 km.

The validity period for journey is roughly fixed for a minimum travel distance by 125 km to 135 km per day. This means circular ticket of a passenger travelling for 8,000 km will get a validity for 60 to 64 days. There is no restriction for passengers on maximum number of days spent at each stopover and a halt for less than 24 hours to board connecting train will not be considered as break.

T. Mohammed Mubeen, former member of the Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC), Chennai Division, welcomed the decision and said the move would promote domestic tourism. He demanded that the Railways withdraw the GST for sleeper class tickets.