Your next ride on the Rajdhani Express might be a little light on your pocket as the Indian Railways is set to scrap the flexi-fare -- also called dynamic pricing -- on 40 trains, according to a report in 'The Times of India'.
The flexi-fare scheme is reportedly being scrapped for trains that have shown 50 per cent "utilisation" -- bookings. Similarly, the plan is being tweaked to offer convenience and competitive fares to travellers and raise revenue for the railways, the report said.
Moreover, the Railways will also offer 50 per cent discount for 'last-minute' bookings made for seats available up to four days before the journey in 102 other trains in which the dynamic pricing is applied.
There is also a graded discount system being put in place for trains that see less than 60 per cent bookings. Under this scheme, up to 20 per cent discount could be available, the report said.
"The focus is on finding a win-win for passengers as well as the railways. The idea is to respond positively to a passenger grievance and wean them back by making rail travel affordable, competitive and comfortable in comparison to other modes. The idea is to raise revenue through higher utilisation of seats; not by putting burden on passengers," TOI quoted a senior railway official as saying.
He said the new policy is "ready for approval by the pertinent government functionaries".
The flexi-fare scheme was introduced in India's premium super-fast trains like Rajdhani, Duronto, and Shatabdi in September 2016 to rev up the revenue. Under the formula, base fares increase from 10 per cent to 50 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths booked. The system did lead up to 50 per cent increase in fares but has also come under criticism for making railway tickets costly for passengers leading to a decline in the occupancy rate of such trains.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has also criticised the system, saying that occupancy in all classes except the sleeper class in Duronto decreased. Even in AC three-tier, one of the most profitable classes, occupancy dropped significantly after the introduction of the flexi-fare scheme, and the share of vacant berths increased from 0.66 per cent to 4.46 per cent.
A parliamentary panel report had also criticised the government for charging more than the aviation sector in premium trains, without improving service.