Facing a decline in its earnings, the Railways is likely to introduce the dynamic fare system in Humsafar Express trains, a special class service comprising only AC-3 coaches with many added facilities, to perk up revenue.
Equipped with coffee/tea/soup vending machine, hot and refrigerated pantry and other facilities in each cabin, the first Humsafar Express is slated to be launched between New Delhi and Gorakhpur early next month.
The train was scheduled to be flagged off this month, but it was delayed owing to various reasons, including the recent train accident in Kanpur.
"Manufacturing cost of these coaches with modern facilities is high...So there has to be special fares for these services which will be higher than that of regular trains," a senior Railway Ministry official said.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced during the presentation of Rail Budget 2016-17 that there will be seven Humsafar Express trains for inter-city overnight journey, with many additional facilities which are otherwise not available in normal AC-3 coaches.
"The modalities of fare structure are being finalised. We examined several options to fix the fare considering the high expenditure incurred on it. One option was to fix the fare at 20 to 30 per cent higher than the regular AC-3 fares. The other was dynamic pricing," he said.
"For Humsafar, the pricing will be dynamic as there will be provision for lower fare in case of vacant berths at the time of preparation of reservation chart," he said.
In dynamic pricing, the fare goes up with demand and comes down if there is lack of demand.
"We are working out details to have a cap on maximum fare and also for a minimum base fare," he added.
CCTV, GPS-based passenger information system, fire and smoke detection and suppression system, mobile and laptop charging points with every berth are some of the features on Humsafar trains.
Besides, Humsafar will have improved aesthetics with new interior and exterior colour scheme presenting a futuristic look with the use of vinyl sheets similar to Maharaja Express coaches. It will also have integrated braille displays.
Indian Railways has introduced dynamic surge fares on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains from September 9 which has resulted in additional earnings of more than Rs 50 crore till October this year.
The Railways' earnings by the end of September have declined by Rs 3,208.51 crore as compared to September last year. The Railways earned Rs 79,475.42 crore up to September 2016 as against Rs 76,268.91 crore for the corresponding period last year, a decline of 4.04 per cent.
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