Rlys to offer discounts like hotels, airlines; flexi-fare to

Rlys to offer discounts like hotels, airlines; flexi-fare to

New Delhi, PTI: Emulating airlines and hotels, the Railways could soon be dishing out discounts on tickets if trains were not fully booked, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday.

Goyal's remarks came days after the Railway Board formed a six-member committee to review the flexi-fare scheme.

Speaking after a day-long conclave of senior officials here, he said that the national transporter is studying a model of dynamic pricing, offered by airlines and hotels.

"We have been deliberating on a dynamic pricing policy. So far we had been discussing that the price should not go up but I want to go a step ahead. I am exploring a possibility of discounted fares when trains are not full as airlines do.

"We will use (Ashwani) Lohani's (Board chairman) expertise...just as 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," Goyal said.

He also questioned the logic of using flexi-fare model only for increasing price of rail tickets.

"Just like the airlines and hotels where a person gets discount at the last minute, it (the railways) should also offer discounts on the routes with relatively low occupancy," he said.

The six-member committee, set up on December 11, has been mandated to recommend a more lucrative scheme which may include loyalty points and other benefits for passengers.

The Board has also asked the panel to consider modifications or amendments to the the flexi-fare system to offer passengers flexibility of rates during peak season, lean season, on weekdays, weekends and festivals.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within 30 days.

The flexi-fare system, launched in September 2016, led to up to 50% increase in fares. Under the formula, base fares increase from 10 to 50% for every 10% berths booked.

While revenue increased, the Railways lost passengers as several berths remained vacant, officials said.

Goyal also said that in the coming year, plans are being made to maximise utilisation of assets.

"In the airlines, we see the maintenance of an aircraft is completed within 30 minutes and it is ready for another journey. The same way, the railway rakes should be utilised to full capacity.

Must sweat assets

"It is a saying that one should be able to sweat one's assets. Right now a Rajdhani Express train from Delhi to Mumbai halts at the station for maintenance. It can be maintained and cleaned by 22 teams in 30 minutes and made fit to go on a short trip of two or three hours, beside its return journey," he said.

"I would also want the Delhi-Mumbai trip to be completed in 11 hours and half-an-hour on each side goes in maintenance. So a round trip in 24 hours would become possible," the minister said in reply to a question.

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