Railway Budget 2008

I would have liked to see two things in the Indian Railway budget presented two days back (26 Feb 2008).

One is a reduction in the service charge for e-ticket. Currently there is a service charge of Rs.15/- to Rs.25/- for every e-ticket booked. If you look at the cost for Railways on account of this, it is zero. With the increasing use of e-tickets, Railways is getting extra money on the ticket for nothing.

In many countries, online booking is cheaper than counter booking. This is true, even with Airline tickets in India. So why this inconsistency for Railways?

Obviously, this is not "populist". It does not address any "vote bank". No one is interested in this. Hence it has been sidelined.

The other thing, I wanted to see was streamlining of Tatkal charges. Currently, you have to pay the cost for the end to end fare of the train you want to take. In addition, you have to pay Rs.75/- or Rs.150/- based on whether you are travelling during "peak season" or not.

While I agree that Tatkal is for emergency and hence there should be a premium on the ticket, why both "end to end fare" and the tatkal charge? Can't we at least do away with one of them?

Again, this doesn't affect the masses and hence conveniently ignored in the Budget.