Even as the railways collected Rs 189 crore by penalising passengers for carrying excess baggage and from booked luggage in 2017-2018, railway minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said his priority was to raise awareness, not generate revenue through the enforcement of the baggage rule.
The rule came into the spotlight when the national transporter recently launched a nationwide drive to penalise passengers for carrying excess baggage on a journey and spread awareness about it.
Facing criticism, the ministry subsequently said the drive was to educate people about the rule and not to penalise them.
"I never said I do not want to enforce it (the baggage rule). The idea was never to create any problems for the genuine passengers. When a family carries excess luggage, all the other co-passengers suffer, it does not affect the railways. In any case, there is a facility to book it in the luggage van and take it at the destination," Goyal told PTI in an interview.
Stating that the luggage van facility was for all passengers, he urged them to "respect" the comfort of fellow travellers.
"What we are trying to do is create more and more awareness. Once that awareness comes in, the people of India are quite responsible and will surely put their luggage in the luggage van. Our job is to create more awareness. Penalty or collection of penalty is not our priority, our priority is customer satisfaction," the minister said.
However, the railways has earned Rs 56 crore in penalties from passengers carrying excess baggage and Rs 133 crore from booked luggage in 2017-2018, according to official data.
The data revealed that passengers were caught carrying unbooked luggage weighing 59.15 lakh tonne in 2017-2018 and were fined for doing so.
On the other hand, passengers pre-booked luggage weighing 7.14 crore tonne by paying the stipulated rate at the parcel office, bringing a revenue of Rs 133 crore to the railways last fiscal.
According to the existing norms, a sleeper class and a second class passenger can carry luggage weighing 40 kg and 35 kg respectively without paying any extra money, and a maximum of 80 kg and 70 kg respectively by paying for the excess luggage at the parcel office. The excess luggage would have to be put in the luggage van.
Similarly, an AC first-class passenger can carry 70 kg of luggage for free and a maximum of 150 kg after paying a fee for the excess 80 kg. An AC two-tier passenger can carry 50 kg of luggage for free and another 50 kg by paying a fee. An AC 3-tier sleeper/AC chair car passenger can carry 40 kg of luggage for free and a maximum of 80 kg after paying a fee for the excess 40 kg.