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NEW DELHI : Indian Railways has decided to continue booking only reserved seats for second class travel in passenger trains, thereby restricting relief from higher ticket charges for a large section of general travellers.

A majority of the 23 million passengers travel in the second class of passenger trains. With the categorisation of several trains, as mail express and holiday specials during the pandemic, travellers had to pay more to complete their regular journey on higher category trains with only reserved seating.

Replying to a question in Parliament, minister of railways Ashwini Vaishnaw has said that due to the pandemic situation, the second class of passenger trains will continue to run as reserved except for any relaxation permitted in special cases.

This would mean that even for a short duration of travel in second class, passengers would have to pay a seat reservation fee adding up to the overall rail fare.

According to railway ministry data, the national transporter upgraded 364 Passenger services as Express services during 2020-2021.

Though Speeding up of trains is a constant endeavour and continuous process on Indian Railways and is dependent inter-alia on factors like availability/upgradation of the track, doubling of sections, up-gradation of rolling stock, high power locomotives, etc., coming during the pandemic, such exercise has made rail travel expensive for a certain category of travellers.

The minister said in Parliament that Passenger fare is charged as per categorisation of train service. Trains that were being operated as Mail Express Specials (MSPC) and Holiday Specials (HSP) due to Covid Pandemic, and were included in the working timetable, 2021 are again being operated with a regular number and with fare and categorisation as applicable now. This has come as a relief but continuing reservation requirements are causing worry.

The naming and numbering of trains are dependent on the nature of services viz. Passenger, Express, MEMU and DEMU etc which inter-alia is based on their speed and nature of rolling stock.

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