Indian Railways travellers on premium trains, who have been paying high ticket prices so far, can finally heave a sigh of relief as the national transporter is toying with the idea to do away with the flexi-fare scheme, said a report. Termed as dynamic pricing, this system was introduced in September 2016 on about 40 trains, often making rail fares costlier than airline tickets.
For the remaining 102 trains under the scheme, Indian Railways will offer up to 50 per cent discount for ‘last-minute’ bookings made for the seats available up to four days before the journey, revealed a Times of India report. The department is also likely to put graded discount system for trains that see less than 60 per cent bookings, the report said.
The move reportedly comes after a trial run on the Chennai-Mysuru Shatabdi where occupancy went up after the flexi-fare scheme was tweaked.
Under the scheme, the train fare increases by 10 per cent as every 10 per cent of the berths/seats are occupied/sold. Further, there is also a tariff cap of 140 per cent for AC-III tier class of travel and that of 150 per cent for all classes except AC First and Executive Chair Car.
Since the introduction of flexi-fare scheme, which increases the train ticket tariff as the occupancy rate goes up, it faced severe criticism from passengers.
Notably, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report also criticised Indian Railways for introducing flexi-fare scheme. The CAG report stated that several routes on which the flexi-fare scheme has been introduced, passengers opted for air travel as it was more affordable and convenient.
The CAG recommended that Indian Railways should rationalise the flexi-fare scheme and continue with this system only on routes where the demand arises.