Soon, you may have to pay less to travel on a Shatabdi train — but only for a short trip. The Railways, with an eye to increase the occupancy in the last leg of the journey of a Shatabdi train, is considering a reduction in fare for that leg and has already put in place two pilot projects, according to an official of the Railways familiar with the projects.
On a trial basis, the Railways reduced the fare on the last legs of the Delhi-Ajmer and the Chennai-Mysuru routes. “The fare between Jaipur and Ajmer was brought down at par with the road transport fare while the fare between Bengaluru and Mysuru was also reduced. In the Jaipur-Ajmer leg, the occupancy did not change but in Mysuru, there was a decent jump in traffic so the scheme has been continued there. There is no proposal to reduce the fare for the entire journey…” said the official.
A similar trial reduction has been started for the New Jalpaiguri-Malda leg of the Kolkata Shatabdi and Ahmedabad-Baroda leg of the Mumbai Shatabdi, added the official. He also said a committee formed to review the flexi-fare scheme is likely to submit its report soon.
The move to lower fares is encouraged by the success of a pilot project launched on two routes last year. In one section, where the pilot scheme was implemented, the earnings went up by 17 per cent and passenger bookings by 63 per cent, the official said. The development comes at a time when the national transporter is facing flak over the flexi-fare scheme and the general contention that it has led to a spike in fares in Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto trains.
The Railways runs around 45 Shatabdi trains and these are among the fastest in the country.
The Railways had last year launched a pilot project in two Shatabdi trains — one running between New Delhi and Ajmer and the other between Chennai-Mysuru to study the impact of lowering of fares. Under the scheme, the fares were reduced between Jaipur and Ajmer, and Bengaluru and Mysuru — the sections of the route which witnessed perpetual low occupancy.
“The move yielded positive results for us. What we did was we offered fares in these premium trains equivalent to bus fares plying on the particular stretch,” the official said.
In the case of the Shatabdi to Ajmer, he said, the occupancy was low between Jaipur and Ajmer as people preferred to travel by buses which offered more affordable fares. To attract passengers, the Railways decided to match the bus fare in the premium train and reduced the ticket prices to about Rs. 300 in this section.
Similar step was also taken in the Shatabdi train between Chennai and Mysuru. The fares were reduced between Bengaluru and Mysuru, resulting in 63 per cent growth in passenger bookings on this stretch between January and November last year compared to the corresponding period the previous year.
The official said the measures being adopted are part of an exhaustive exercise initiated by the Railways for optimum utilisation of resources. One such exercise is reducing the layover time of a train for introducing more services.
By reducing the layover time of trains, the official said, the Railways was now looking to run 100 new trains on shorter and longer routes. While 25 new trains have already been introduced, 75 more would be run within this year.
Layover time refers to the time a train remains stationed at the terminating or originating point. This time is being utilised to run the train on new routes, optimising the resources.
Recently, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced that a detailed analysis was carried out about layover time and the results have helped railways identify the routes on which new services can be introduced.
Jaipur-Agra Shatabdi to be discontinued by North Western Railway
The Golden Triangle of India, i.e., Delhi-Jaipur-Agra, will suffer a setback as Jaipur to Agra tourists and domestic travelers will now be unable to board the Jaipur-Agra Shatabdi Express. North Western Railways (NWR) has decided to terminate the Jaipur-Agra Shatabdi Express after a massive dip in passenger bookings.
“From May, 1 onwards the train services would be terminated,” said Tarun Jain, chief public relations officer, NWR on Thursday. Sources close to NWR has said that the number of passengers has been steadily going down since a long time and, thus, the Jaipur-Agra and Agra-Jaipur Shatabdi services had to be terminated.
The train was quite popular among foreign tourists, as told by a Jaipur based travel agent, “Usually many tourists after landing in Delhi from their country used to visit Jaipur first. After a two-day halt in Jaipur, they used to go to Agra by Shatabadi Express. This is a major setback. There are other trains too for Agra, but the timing of train was suitable for everyone as it starts in the morning and took the passengers back to Jaipur after visiting Agra in the evening.”
A senior officer of NWR also said that the train could be re-started as Jan Shatabdi, which will have subsidized fares. The catering service could be removed from the train, and the fare will be reduced in order to run as Jan Shatabdi. The train is expected to have the same schedule as the Shatabdi.