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Unfair train fare

Decision to introduce the flexi-fare system in some premier trains - Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi - was ill-conceived

Business Standard 

With reference to “Flexi-fare system to be reviewed soon, Railways may slash ticket prices too” (September 29), at last wiser counsel has prevailed over the soon after took over the reins of this ill-fated ministry which has acquired the dubious distinction of being a highly accident-prone public service. In fact, the decision of the then incumbent Suresh Prabhu, widely considered as one of the most dynamic ministers in Narendra Modi’s cabinet, to introduce the flexi-fare system in some premier trains — Rajdhani, and — was ill-conceived.

It was based on wrong assumptions that it could serve as a milch cow and would drastically change the “financial” fate of the which was desperately searching for some windfall on the revenue front. Though it might have brought more revenue on a macro basis, the immediate fallout of this move was that these trains had started running with only 50-60 per cent occupancy. Thus, its net result could be seen in the recurring loss of the train passengers to some “other” convenient modes of transport.

Ironically, no one was then ready to listen to various sane voices that were “wittingly” conscious of the emerging side effects of such an “out-of-the-box” idea, most probably borrowed from the civil aviation sector. But could the railways be wisely expected to run successfully on the “premise” of our domestic airlines? Of course, no. In any case, better late than never! However, one genuinely hopes that Goyal’s latest public announcement that the railways will on November 1 convert 48 mail express trains to superfast trains and increase the speed of over 700 trains will be able to “withstand” their “enhanced” speed test owing to the extremely poor health of the tracks in India. For sure, enough is enough. No more train derailments please.

Kumar Gupt   Panchkula

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First Published: Mon, October 02 2017. 22:35 IST