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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 11:34 GMT
Fare-dodging transport boss fined
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Indian passenger train
Officials say fare-dodging on Indian trains is widespread
The transport minister of India's northern state of Bihar has been fined for travelling on an express train without a ticket.

Awadh Bihari Choudhry and his security guard were both fined 250 rupees ($5.50) after being caught on Monday.

Mr Choudhry is a member of the political party led by the federal railways minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav.

A spokesman for Mr Yadav's ministry said it was keen to fight the menace of ticketless travel.

Significant decline

Mr Choudhry and his guard, who were travelling in Bihar in an air-conditioned carriage, paid the fine plus the fare of 1,162 rupees each, to avoid arrest.

Federal railway officials said travelling ticketless or without the proper ticket was widespread and the government intended to be tough on the issue.

Director of public relations for the federal railways, MY Siddiqui, told the BBC: "Ticketless travelling and paying less are two areas our minister is very keen to focus on. And the results are already showing."

Mr Siddiqui said ticketless travel in the past three months had seen a significant decline.

"The increase in fines from 50 rupees to 250 rupees this July is proving to be a deterrent," he said.

India's railway network is among the world's largest, carrying more than 13m passengers a day.

Analysts say the government needs to take effective measures to raise revenue to improve creaking infrastructure.

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