NEW DELHI:The booking of railway tickets online through the IRCTC website has just become cheaper. In the Union Budget 2017 presented today, finance minister Arun Jaitley said railways will no longer levy service charge on train tickets booked online through the IRCTC website. Earlier, a service tax of Rs. 20 had to paid while booking Sleeper Class tickets and Rs. 40 for AC class tickets. “Service charges on e-tickets booked through IRCTC will be withdrawn. Cashless reservations have gone up from 58 per cent to 68 per cent,” Mr Jaitley said.
The online booking of railway tickets has witnessed a sharp spurt after the government banned the notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 on November 8 and the cash crunch that followed. But as people switched to cashless transactions, there was a growing demand that the service charge be waived.
This was the first time that the government broke with the 99-year-old tradition of a having separate railway budget, clubbing it instead with the Union budget, which was presented in parliament today. In a budget that was described as “forward looking” by Railways minister Suresh Prabhu, government has provided Rs. 1.31 lakh crore for the capital expenditure of railways,
The government has also proposed that a special safety fund of Rs. 1 lakh crore be set up that will cover upgradation of tracks and signaling, and eliminate unmanned level crossings. The Railway Budget has also provided funds for the commissioning of 3,500 km of railways tracks.
“Growth will happen because of huge investments that are happening. For example in railways, the provision for Rs. 1.31 lakh cr for capital expenditure is unprecedented in railway history,” Mr Prabhu said.