Indian Railways turning into ‘Indian Airlines’?

Chennai (IANS) Is the Indian Railways following the airline industry policy – overbooking of seats? This question popped up in the minds of a couple of passengers of the Ahilya Nagari SF Express train travellin from Chennai to Palakkad, Kerala.

The passengers received a message from the IRCTC just before boarding the train that they were downgraded from the air conditioned coach normal coach to third air conditioned coach-economy class.

The Indian Railways has introduced a new class – third AC Economy – that has higher seat/berth capacity and a lower fare structure than a normal third AC coach.

“I had booked and got a confirmed third AC class ticket from Chennai to Palakkad on IRCTC ticket booking portal. Prior to our actual journey I got a message from IRCTC saying that I have been allotted accommodation in 3E instead of 3A and eligible for a refund of fare difference,” Sidharth told IANS.

“However to get the refund, I have to spend money and time. Already I am put to the hardship of traveling in a lower class than what I had booked and paid for. Further for unknown reasons IRCTC informs me that the seat and the berth has been allotted in a different coach.

“When that is the case, IRCTC’s systems should be able to calculate the difference and credit my bank account with the fare difference. But as per the Indian Railways procedure, I have to courier the certificate of downgrade issued by the Train Ticket Examiner (TTE) to IRCTC office in Delhi. The IRCTC Delhi will in turn send the claim to the concerned Railway Zone under whose jurisdiction the concerned train falls. On receipt of the refund money from that Railway Zone, IRCTC will refund the money,” he added.

As per norms, refund claims are to be filed within two days of getting the certificate from the TTE.

Sidharth’s problem did not however end.

When he tried to upload the certificate on the IRCTC portal, it didn’t work.

“Imagine if this happens across the country in most of the trains. It is nothing but unjust enrichment of the Indian Railways if the passengers were not able to claim the refund following a costly and laborious process,” he added.

According to him, he heard another passenger of the same train asking the TTE the procedure for claiming refund after his ticket was also downgraded.

Indian Railways offer free upgrades — from lower class to upper class — depending upon the seat availability.

In this case instead of autocratic downgrading, had the IRCTC offered an upgrade option, then it would have earned our Goodwill forever, Sidharth added.

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