Rail e-tickets to cost more

New Delhi, March 10: Railway passengers buying e-tickets will have to shell out more from April with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) deciding to pass on the service tax burden to them.

At present, the IRCTC charges Rs 10 per e-ticket for sleeper class and second sitting and Rs 20 for all other classes irrespective of the number of passengers. A maximum of six passengers can be booked per e-ticket.

A senior IRCTC official said, “We had been bearing the burden of service tax since July this fiscal. We have been paying Rs 1.20 for sleeper class and Rs 2.40 for AC classes per ticket and from April passengers will have to bear this.”

According to estimates, the IRCTC will be paying around Rs 18 crore to the government’s service tax kitty this fiscal.

Although the rail budget did not increase the base fare after a 21 per cent hike in January, passengers will have to pay more for supplementary charges such as reservation fees, cancellation charges and Tatkal reservation fees. The change in supplementary charges will result in the railways earning an additional revenue of Rs 483 crore.

Analysts said Indian Railways should offer incentives rather than penalise e-ticket buyers. They cite the example of air: websites such as Yatra.com and MakeMyTrip.com, which act as booking agents for flight tickets, offer incentives to passengers.

The IRCTC website is one of the largest e-commerce site globally with a sale of around 4.5 lakh e-tickets per day out of nearly 12 lakh tickets booked with Indian Railways.

Officials said they had petitioned to the railways to shift the service tax burden as the number of e-ticket buyers would go up substantially with Indian Railways planning to put in place the next-generation e-ticketing system by the end of this year.

The new system will be able to support 7,200 tickets per minute against 2,000 tickets per minute now. It will cater to 1,20,000 users simultaneously compared with the present capacity of 40,000 users.

Rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in his budget speech had said, “This will bring about a paradigm shift in Internet rail ticketing by significantly improving the end user experience with respect to ease of use, response time and capacity.”