Your train travel may become cheaper! The Indian Railways is planning to imitate discount policy that hotels and airlines offer to get more customers. Just like airlines and hotels, the railways could soon be dishing out discounts on tickets if trains are not fully booked, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has said. This may lead to a complete revamp of the flexi-fare scheme. Mr Goyal’s remarks came days after the Railway Board formed a six-member committee to review the flexi-fare scheme.
Here are 10 things to know about what Mr Goyal said on discounts on Indian Railways’ train seats:
1) “We have been deliberating on a dynamic pricing policy. So far we have been discussing that the price should not go up but I want to go a step ahead. I am exploring a possibility where, suppose trains are not going full like in airlines, we get discounted fares,” said Mr Goyal.
2) “We will use (Ashwani) Lohani’s expertise…like there is dynamic pricing in hotels. First the prices are low…then the prices go high and then later you get discounts on the remaining rooms through bookmyhotel or other websites,” he said. Mr Lohani is the current Chairman of the Indian Railway Board.
3) “Just like the airlines and hotels where a person gets discount at that last minute, it (the railways) should also offer discounts on the routes with relatively low occupancy,” he said.
4) Mr Goyal spoke on Saturday after a day-long conclave of senior officials in New Delhi. The six-member committee, set up on December 11, has been mandated to recommend ways to offer a more lucrative scheme that may include loyalty and other benefits to passengers.
5) The board has also asked the panel to consider modifications or amendments to the flexi-fare system to offer passengers flexibility of rates during peak/lean seasons or during weekdays, weekends or festivals.
6) The committee has been asked to submit its report within 30 days.
7) The flexi-fare system, launched in September 2016, led to up to 50 per cent increase in fares. Under the formula, base fares increase from 10 per cent to 50 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths booked. While revenue increased, the railways lost passengers as several berths remained vacant, officials said.
8) Mr Goyal also said that the Indian Railways should try to follow the way in which airlines maintain their aircraft within 30 minutes or so. He said that railway rakes should be utilised to full capacity. “Right now a Rajdhani Express train from Delhi to Mumbai stays at the station for maintenance. It can be maintained and cleaned by 22 teams in 30 minutes and again made fit to go on a journey of two or three hours, besides its original return journey,” he said.
9) “Going ahead I would want that the trip between Delhi and Mumbai be completed in 11 hours and half-an-hour on each side (should) go in maintenance. So a round trip would become possible,” the minister said.
10) Mr Goyal said that while the national transporter was already trying out an experiment on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani by using two engines, he has also suggested that the train should depart from Delhi at 5 pm instead of 4 pm. (With PTI Inputs)