Efforts towards upgrading Indian Railways infrastructure, especially computerisation of the signalling system, has led to fewer instances of trains running late than flights due to fog this year, said Railways Minister Piyush Goyal. The minister's statement comes in the backdrop of heavy fog for the third consecutive day in the Delhi-NCR region, which has led to cancellation of 21 trains, while over 59 trains have been delayed. Apart from this, eight flights were cancelled till filing of the report on Wednesday.
"Due to our constant efforts, less trains were running in late in comparison to flight during fogs," he claimed during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.
Over 500 flights, both domestic and international, flying into and out of the IGI Airport have been affected since Sunday, when the city witnessed the worst fog of the season. Two flights cancelled on Wednesday while 36 others were delayed. Visibility, however, improved and the runway visual range was above the minimum requirement for take-offs and landings. A total of 24 domestic flights and 12 international flights were delayed. Two domestic flights were also cancelled. Poor visibility also disrupted train services.
Panel to review flexi-fare system
Goyal said that a committee has been set up to review the flexi-fare system and recommend best options, keeping in mind the interests of passengers and the Railways. Launched in September 2016, the railways flexi-fare system for premium trains has generated more revenue but overall footfall in popular trains like Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto Express has reduced, thanks to competitive pricing by other similar modes of transportations and domestic airlines.
But now prices for premium trains may go down as the railway board wants to review the dynamic pricing system that automatically increases ticket price by 10 per cent for every 10 per cent seats filled in a train, which can lead up to 50 per cent increase in the base fare. A six-member committee has been constituted to find out ways to make it more profitable and, at the same time, passenger-friendly.
Referring to the committee to review the flexi-fare system, the minister said it will examine the impact on revenue generated for railways, impact on passengers in terms of their choice of railway as means transport, competitiveness of flexi fare vis-a-vis other means of transport. Apart from suggesting any changes in the current version of the flexi-fare system to make it workable in all seasons, the committee will find out how 'loyal' railway passengers can be benefitted in terms of add-ons or special discounts. The panel will also compare the prices with that of other modes of transport in the same sectors before finalising the new system.
Focus on safety in trains
The minister highlighted the government's focus on improving safety in trains and computerisation of the signalling system, which he said continues to run through the old system started before independence. Indicating capital investment as a hurdle in development of railway infrastructure, the minister said the government has put capital inflows in railways on priority in the past three years. He expressed the government's vision to revamp the railways network by 2022. "Around Rs 1,20,000 crore will be invested this year and the amount will be more next year. Our aim is to make a new Indian Railways by 2022 and works are going on in this regard," he said.
Railway ticket sales rise by over Rs 2,000 crore in 2016-17
Ticket sales brought in a total of Rs 47,678.09 crore for Indian Railways during finanical year 2016-17. This is Rs 2,000 crore more than what was seen in the last fiscal.
Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain told Lok Sabha that in 2016-2017 the national transporter earned Rs 19,209.28 crore in online booking and Rs 28,468.81 crore from offline booking. The revenue generated through tickets in 2015-2016 was Rs 45,323.93 crore while in the corresponding period next year it increased by Rs 2354.16 crore.
"With a view to facilitating convenient booking of unreserved tickets by passengers without having to stand in long queues to purchase railway tickets, Indian Railways has introduced facility of booking paperless unreserved tickets, season ticket and platform ticket through mobile phone in some stations in Central, Western, Eastern, Southern, South Eastern, South Central and Northern Railways", Gohain said.
(With PTI inputs)