Media outlets have circulated a claim alleging that Indian Railways is charging full price for tickets for children under the age of five. The claim is being circulated by political leaders such as Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav as well.
Media outlets such as Zee News and Dainik Jagran published the claim as a news report on their websites.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi circulated the claim on his Facebook page with the caption. In the caption, he said, "IRCTC has updated its ticket booking rules, under which children in the age group of 1-5 years will also have to pay full ticket fare." He also heavily criticised the BJP based on this claim in his Facebook post.
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson, Vaibhav Maheshwari, tweeted a screenshot of Jagran's article circulating the claim. He said, "During the Amrit Mahotsav, the Modi government released gang-rape-murder criminals from jail, increased the milk price, began charging one-year-old children for tickets on train journeys and made flour expensive by applying GST. Besides pride in independence, shame on the BJP government is also necessary."
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav also shared the claim on Twitter, saying, "Thank the BJP government, which has imposed full rail ticket charges on one-year-old children. The train will no longer be for the poor." However, he later deleted the tweet.
The Logical Indian Fact check team verified the viral claim and found it to be false. No such orders were issued by the Ministry of Railways.
We searched to check whether the Railways had carried out such a change. We came across this Business Standard article published on August 17, 2022, with the title, 'No changes in rules for booking tickets for kids, clarifies Railways'.
The Business Standard article mentions the Ministry of Railways circular dated March 6, 2020. This circular states that children under five shall travel for free. However, the circular reportedly states that a separate berth or seat (in a chair car) should not be provided in this case. The article mentions that passengers can purchase tickets if they require berths for their children below the age of 5 years. In this case, the full adult fare will be charged.
We then searched for the circular issued by the Ministry of Railways circular dated March 6, 2020. We came across this circular on the Indian Railways website.
The Fact Check wing of the Press Information Bureau tweeted about the viral claim and provided the same clarifications as the Railways circular. It termed the claim as misleading.
Press Information Bureau also debunked the viral claim stating that there is no change in the rule related to booking of tickets for children under the age of five years traveling in trains. The tweet also linked to a press release issued by the Ministry of Railways.
The press release issued by the Ministry of Railways published on August 17, 2022, states that there have been some media reports claiming that now children between the age of one to four years will have to get a ticket to travel on the train.
"These news items and media reports are misleading. It is informed that Indian Railways has not introduced any changes regarding booking tickets for children travelling on the train. On the demand of the passengers, an option has been given to them to buy a ticket and book a berth for their under 5-year-old child if they want. And if they don't want a separate berth, then it is free, the same as it used to be earlier," the statement reads.
We then tried to book tickets on the IRCTC website. During this process, we found that for newborns and kids under five, the IRCTC booking page offered two options: one to add an infant with a berth, and the other to add an infant without a berth.
When we chose the "Add infant without birth" option, a pop-up message verifying the railway's ministry statement that no separate ticket would be issued appeared.
We then continued the booking step and found that the ticket was issued for only one person.
We also booked another ticket with option "add infant with berth" and found that the ticket was issued for two people.
North Central Railway and Western Railway also tweeted, debunking the claims.
In our Fact Check, we found that the Indian Railways has not introduced any new changes regarding booking tickets for children travelling on the train.
If passengers demand, an option has been given to them to buy a ticket and book a berth for their child under five years if they want. And if the separate berth isn't required, then travel on the train is free. Thus, we are able to ascertain that the claim that children aged 1-5 years will be charged full ticket prices is misleading.
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