Rlys to lure bus, air travellers with discounted fare

Rlys to lure bus, air travellers with discounted fare

With rising complaints that travellers are favouring bus or air travel to trains because of the high fares, mostly on short routes, the national transporter is working on special discounts on fares to win back lost passengers, said an official in the Ministry of Railways. 

During the lean period, a large number of seats on some premium trains remain vacant after the introduction of flexi-fare system, which has pushed train fares higher than bus and airfares on some routes, said the official.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) recently criticised the flexi-fare and stated that a comparison with airfares for 13 sectors showed that travelling by aeroplane was cheaper than train travel on a large number of routes.

To bring relief to passengers, Railways will come up with a revised flexi-fare scheme next month, said the official.

Fall in traffic

In terms of absolute numbers, the premium trains carried 2.40 crore passengers during post-flexi period (September 9, 2016 to July 31, 2017), compared to 2.47 crore passengers during pre-flexi period (September 9, 2015, to July 31, 2016), said the country's top auditor in its report.

Under the flexi-fare scheme, applicable in premium trains such as Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi, the base fare increases by 10% with every 10% of berths sold, subject to a prescribed maximum limit. However, there was no change in the fares for First Class AC and Executive Class tickets.

Though railway officials ruled out rollback of the flexi-fare as it fetches around Rs 200 crore a year to the national transporter, there is pressure to modify it to fill the vacant berths on some routes.