मुंबई Mumbai: Passengers travelling to Mumbai from Jabalpur on the Varanasi-LTT air-conditioned premium special train were in shock on Sunday as the train, which was running behind schedule, arrived and departed unnoticed. The stranded passengers were accommodated in the sleeper class of another train but will have to wait before the excess fare is refunded.
The train departs from Varanasi at 9.45am and arrives at 7pm at Jabalpur Junction. However, passengers were told the train was running behind schedule and will arrive at Jabalpur station at 10.15pm. Instead, the train arrived earlier and departed from the station at 9.15pm.
Railway authorities have blamed the train-running status software for the failure. Piyush Mathur, chief public relations officer, West Central Railway said, “The train-running status of the train could not be updated on the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS). When passengers were tracking the train status online or through the train enquiry system, they found that it was running three hours behind schedule. Those passengers who turned up late at the station were unable to board the train.”
Ankit Soni, a passenger who traveled by the train and had bought a ticket for Rs 1800, said, “There was absolute chaos at Jabalpur station as well as when the train arrived at LTT. There was no announcement, nor did the station master seem to be aware about the train’s status.”
However, Mathur said, “Announcements were regularly made at stations about the status of the train. Since 37 passengers were stranded, a sleeper coach was attached to Godan Express and a Train Ticket Examiner was deputed. Passengers were issued Excess Fare receipt by deducting the fare for Godan Express between Jabalpur and LTT so that they can seek a refund.”
The Varanasi-LTT premium train has a dynamic fare system similar to an airline. Fares increase as the availability decreases and departure dates draw near. The base fare is equivalent to Tatkal fare but due to dynamic pricing it can increase by more than 100%.
Rakesh Singh, a passenger, who bought the ticket at Rs 8,000 said, “Some people had spent 10,000 to 15,000 to book a berth. We spent almost two hours at LTT station on Sunday to get the refund. However, the local authorities said we will have to apply online on the IRCTC website to get the refund.” Some passengers were travelling to Mumbai to catch international flights. Singh said, “A passenger told me he will be in the US for six months. How will he keep track of the refund?”
But Mathur said there was no other option. “Passengers will have to undergo the inconvenience and follow the refund procedure via IRCTC’s e-ticketing website.”