Luggage allowance is something that all of us are aware of when we are flying, but when travelling by Indian Railways (IR) we never really give it a thought. It is with good reason that we dont because IR allows you to carry up to 40 kgs for free in the Sleeper class. However, there are a few caveats that you should be aware of.
The maximum size of box you can carry with you is 100 cm x 60 cm x 25 cm (length x breadth x height). If you exceed any one of these dimensions you must book your luggage in to the luggage van, or at the very least you must take a luggage ticket. Television sets are booked in by their screen size.
Funnily enough, the officials never stop you when you are boarding the train. It costs you just INR 200 to book in a 32″ television set. However, if you are stopped en route or at the destination then you are liable to be charged 6 times the amount. The reason why they dont stop you at the boarding point is obvious, most people will then just pay the legal amount. However, at the destination most people will tend to take the officer’s offer of paying a bribe to avoid the larger fine.
Last month, I faced a situation where my family was coming to Hyderabad and were carrying a television for me. On reaching Hyderabad they were stopped and the officer explained the rules to us. When he offered that we could pay a bribe and walk away, both my sister and I refused. So now the gentleman had to write us a reciept. Funnily for a person so aware of the rules which required us to pay Rs.1200, he had no clue how to write a reciept for excess baggage and was busy asking the other officers if any of them had written one ever.
While it is easy for us to lament that fact that bribery and corruption are a part and parcel of everyday life, it is also our duty to not give into it. Officialdom needs us to give into it to be able to thrive. Let us fight them by asking for a receipt for any money we pay them.