Indian Railways is looking at introducing dynamic fares for all classes in all trains on the lines of air fares
, a TOI report suggests. The report suggest that the railway ministry is looking at two options: introduction of dynamic fares, which will increase and decrease depending on the demand for tickets, and to introduce special fares for tickets booked closer to the departure date.
The plan was mooted after the Railways Ministry decided to discontinue ‘premium’ trains introduced last year, and replaced it with Suvidha trains, and thereby tasted success. The Dynamic Fare System also holds importance on the backdrop of the fact that there has been a dip in passenger traffic in the last few years across the country. Thus, the proposal aims to generate revenue and provide easy access to tickets for a large number of people.
Talking about the dynamic fare system, a senior railway official told TOI:
“Under the current booking system there is duplication of booking wherein people or agents book tickets in multiple number of trains to ensure confirmed berths. Dynamic fares and tweaking of cancellation policy will boost revenue to railways and help genuine travellers.”
The official also said that different options were being considered at different meetings and that “a decision will be taken to form a policy only after considering all aspects of a proposal.”
He further added that “the premium policy has changed from running premium trains last year to operating Suvidha special trains. And this has been a success.” The Suvidha special trains that were being operated under the Southern Railway zone, especilly that were running in the South Western Railway area, has seen some encouraging feedback.
Especially the routes running to Bengaluru was really encouraging, with results showing that in spite of the cost of tickets, people were ready to pay extra to get a berth on trains.
Further on high density routes, like Chennai-Madurai and Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram, people were not really cost-conscious and were ready to pay more to get confirmed seats.
Looking at the above scenario, an official said that the newly introduced cancellation rules would be really effective as:
“The new cancellation and refund rules may be expensive but are designed to eliminate agents booking tickets. Under the existing practice, agents book tickets on many trains and will cancel and get their refunds after the train departs. Now, the left over tickets will be open for booking under current booking,”
The TOI report
also states that the railways plans to generate 17.8 per cent of the funds from internal resources. It further says that the earnings from passenger operations have steadily increased in the last three years, from Rs 18,077 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 23,100 crore this year. Looking at the above facts, the railway officers are now encouraged to come up with new ideas to generate more revenues with Railways minister Suresh Prabhu frequently holding meetings with officers of different zones to discuss the matter.