In what comes as a big relief for rail passengers, Indian Railways has decided to scrap flexi-fares for 40 trains. The national transporter is doing away with flexi fares or dynamic pricing in nearly a third of premium trains as it drove away customers. Flexi fares would at times end up being costlier than airfare.
Indian Railways is also offering 50% discount for last-minute bookings - up to four days before the journey - for the remaining 102 trains under the scheme. Railways is also rolling out graded discounts for trains that see less than 60% bookings.
The flexi-fare scheme was initially introduced for 44 Rajdhanis, 46 Shatabdis and 52 Duronto expresses. As mentioned in a report in Times of India, the flexi fare system is scrapped for trains that have shown 50% utilisation - or in other words, bookings. The plan is tweaked to offer convenience and competitive fares to passengers as well as generate revenue for the Indian Railways.
According to reports, a trial run on the Chennai-Mysuru Shatabdi showed that occupancy went significantly up after flexi fares were removed.
The daily quoted a senior Indian Railways official saying that the focus of the new move is to find a solution that is a win-win for both the passengers and the Railways. He added that the idea is to listen to the passenger's grievances, and make rail travel affordable and comfortable in comparison to other modes of travel.
He further added that the idea is to raise revenue through higher utilisation of seats and not by passing the burden on the travellers. The official also added that the new policy is ready for approval by pertinent government functionaries. The recommendations have been sent to Piyush Goyal and his approval is being awaited.
The flexi-fare system has been widely criticised since its introduction. As per the system, train ticket tariff goes up as the occupancy rate increases. The train fare increases by 10% as every 10% of berths are occupied. There is a tariff cap of 140% for AC-III tier class and 150% for all classes, except AC First and Executive Chair Car.
As such, air fare for certain routes started costing less than a train ticket. Needless to say, travellers started opting for a flight ticket instead of a train one.
The flexi-fare system was also criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)