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Cheaper train tickets? Railways may offer discounts like hotels, airlines

Piyush Goyal also said that in the coming year, plans are being made to maximise utilisation of assets

Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Indian Railways, Railways

Just like the airlines and hotels, Indian Railways could soon be dishing out discounts on tickets if trains were not fully booked, said on Saturday, indicating a complete revamp of the flexi-fare scheme. Goyal's remarks came days after the formed a six-member committee to review the flexi-fare scheme. Speaking after a day-long conclave of senior officials in Delhi, he said that the national transporter is studying a model of dynamic pricing, offered by the airlines and hotels. ALSO READ: Indian Railways may soon shorten recruitment process from 2 yrs to 6 months "We have been deliberating on a policy. So far we have been discussing that the price should not go up but I want to go a step ahead. I am exploring a possibility where suppose trains are not going full, then like in airlines, we get discounted fares,” Goyal said. "We will use (Ashwani) Lohani's expertise...like there is in hotels. First, the prices are low..then the prices go high and then later you get discounts on the remaining rooms through bookmyhotel or other websites," Goyal said. He also questioned why flexi-fares only were meant for a price increase of rail tickets. "Just like the airlines and hotels where a person gets discount at that last minute, it (the railways) should also offer discounts on the routes with relatively low occupancy," he said. ALSO READ: Indian Railways now has a Rs 12,000-cr plan to make your travel safer The six-member committee, set up on December 11, has been mandated to recommend ways to offer a more lucrative scheme, which may include loyalty and other benefits to the passengers. The board has also asked the panel to consider modifications or amendments to the flexi-fare system to offer passengers flexibility of rates during peak season, lean season or during weekdays, weekends or festivals. The committee has been asked to submit its report within 30 days. The flexi-fare system, launched in September 2016, led to up to 50 per cent increase in fares. Under the formula, base fares increase from 10 per cent to 50 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths booked. ALSO READ: Railways mulling installation of CCTV cameras inside trains While revenue increased, the railways lost passengers as several berths remained vacant, officials said. Goyal also said that in the coming year, plans are being made to maximise utilisation of assets. "In the airlines, we see the maintenance of an aircraft is completed within 30 minutes and it is made ready to go for another journey.

In the same way, the railway rakes should be utilised to full capacity. "It is a saying that one should be able to sweat one's assets. Right now a train from Delhi to Mumbai stays at the station for maintenance. It can be maintained and cleaned by 22 teams in 30 minutes and again made fit to go on a journey of two or three hours, besides its original return journey," he said. "It can be utilised for a small trip in that time. Going ahead I would want that the trip between Delhi and Mumbai be completed in 11 hours and half-an-hour on each side goes in maintenance. So a round trip would become possible," the minister said. ALSO READ: Indian Railways to focus more on women, children safety in 2018 He was replying to a question on if the Railways is exploring the possibility of a train making a round trip within 24 hours, with half-an-hour gaps for inspection at either end, to maximise utilisation. Goyal said that while the national transporter was already trying out an experiment on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani by using two engines, he has also suggested that the train should depart from Delhi at 5 pm instead of 4 pm, allowing people one more hour to do work. "It should reach Mumbai by 7 am instead of 6 am in the morning, allowing people to sleep for an additional hour, he added. The road ahead He also said that discussions are on to provide CCTV on all trains across India. To connect all the CCTVs he said that railways will provide Wi-Fi connectivity at every station. Stressing on "sweating" of rail assets to use it to its fullest capacity, Goyal said, "I have thought to sweat the assets of railways, the way in which it is carried out in airlines. "In airlines, we see the maintenance of an aircraft is completed within 30 minutes and it is made ready to go on another journey. In the same way, I want the railway rakes to be utilised to full capacity," he said. ALSO READ: Rajdhani to make a round trip daily? Railways exploring options "For example, if a Rajdhani rake reaches Mumbai after a journey of 11 hours, then it can be maintained and cleaned by 22 teams in 30 minutes and again made fit to go on another journey of two or three hours, besides its original return journey," he said. The Minister was replying to a question on exploring the possibility of train making a round trip within 24 hours, with a half-an-hour gap for inspection at either end, to maximise utilisation of such rakes. The Minister said that railways will utilise the for installing CCTVs at over 983 railway stations across the country. "By December 2018 we are hopeful of installing them," he said. He also said that railways will take 2018 as a year where it will collectively fight against atrocities against women and children, especially human trafficking. ALSO READ: Railways sends 3.3 mn msgs in a month to alert train delays of over an hour "We will do this across all the divisions of railways," Goyal added. The meeting is to also deliberate on how to improve punctuality, comfort, safety and aesthetics in railway operations.

First Published: Mon, December 18 2017. 12:36 IST
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