The Indian Railway is planning to introduce graded discounts system in passenger tickets on the line of air tickets where those booked tickets early get cheaper deals.
The national transporter is working on the new system by modifying the existing flexi fare, which was earlier introduced in premium trains like Duronto, Rajdhani and Shatabdhi.
In the proposed system, just like air travellers, railway passengers planning their journey in advance could get cheaper deals. However details are still being worked out, an official in the Railway Ministry said.
Earlier, a Committee appointed by Railway Board comprising NITI Aayog adviser Ravinder Goyal, Executive Director (Revenue Management) of Air India Meenakshi Malik, had suggested graded discounts depending on the number of vacant seats in a train.
Similar to the airlines, which offer heavy discounts to passengers if they book their tickets months in advance, the committee, official said recommended discounts from 50% to 20% depending on the number of vacant seats available at the time of booking.
The panel has also proposed discounts for tickets booked after charting. It has said that discounts can be offered in slots from two days to two hours before the departure of the train.
The committee has also said that passengers will have to pay more for choosing lower berths, just like air travellers pay more for front-row seats.
However, officials say that senior citizens, people with disabilities and pregnant women could be allotted the seats free of charge.
The committee has also recommended that instead of having flat fares, the railways should increase fares during festive seasons, and reduce them during lean months. The government may not implement all the recommendation in its new system instead some suggestions will be incorporated, said the officials.
The Ministry had formed the panel to review the existing flexi fare system where base fares increase by 10% (up to 50%) after every 10% of berths booked. The current flexi fare system received lot of criticism from certain quarter as the premium train fare shoots up to 50%.