Booking e-tickets on Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited’s (IRCTC) online portal will become costlier starting today, September 1. The Indian Railways has re-introduced service charge on e-tickets. The IRCTC will levy a service charge of Rs 15 per ticket for non-AC classes and Rs 30 for AC classes, including first class, according to the August 30 order issued by IRCTC.

In addition to this, Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be applicable separately. The service charges were withdrawn three years ago to promote digital payments, a pet project of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. IRCTC used to levy a service charge of Rs 20 on every non-AC e-ticket and Rs 40 for every AC ticket before it was withdrawn.

In a letter dated 30 August, the Board said the IRCTC had made a “detailed case” for the restoration of service charges and the matter had been examined by the “competent authority”. It further said the finance ministry had contended that the service charges waiver was a temporary one and the railway ministry could restart it.

An Indian Railways official was quoted by news agency IANS as saying that the IRCTC witnessed a drop of over 26 per cent in Internet ticketing revenue after the services charges were done away with. While this move may inconvenience passengers who rely on booking e-tickets, the Indian Railways’ recent announcement offering a discount of up to 25% on special trains may come as a relief.

In a bid to boost sales and meet challenges posed by roadways and low-cost airlines, the Indian Railways has decided to offer up to 25 per cent discount in trains like Shatabdi Express, Tejas, Gatiman and Vande Bharat Express.