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The Indian Railways board is mulling over a dynamic pricing model in which premium charges will be applied during festivals such as Diwali, Durga Puja and discounts will be offered for travelling in odd-hours. The railway board has also proposed discounts on choosing a less popular route/train or one having no pantry services. During a meeting with senior officials last week, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, as well as the board, underlined the need for flexible dynamic-pricing in order to offer competitive fares vis-a-vis airlines. Three railway zones — the eastern, the western and the west-central — have prepared presentations, suggesting ways to introduce dynamic pricing. The zones have suggested that passengers should be offered discounts on trains reaching destination at inconvenient times, for example, between 00:00-04:00 and 13:00-17:00 hours. They have also suggested that 10 to 30 per cent discount to be offered for first leg as well as the last leg vacant berth. The different zones have also proposed that the railways go for premium charges (10 to 20 per cent additional) for peak days and festival seasons. Since there is higher passenger volume on weekends and during festivals such as Diwali, Durga Puja, Chhath and Christmas, these periods could be earmarked for additional charges, the presentations suggest. Passengers could also be asked to pay extra for choosing high-speed trains over others on the same route. The additional amount could be charged on per-hour basis depending on the time a passenger saves while travelling in the faster train, the zones have suggested.
They have also recommended premium charges for overnight trains and trains with pantry cars, and for allowing confirmed booking through e-auction, a week in advance, on popular trains.Differential pricing for preferred berths such as those inside the lower ones and for cabins near doors on either side. And an upgradation fee of Rs 20 per berth has also been suggested. Officials in the railway ministry said a final blueprint for introducing dynamic-pricing through premiums and discounts will be finalised by December 31.