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. The panel will submit the report in 30 days. The railways board's decision to review the 'flexi-fare' system comes in light of a significant revenue share of the premium passengers - around 13-14 per cent - with only 0.35 per cent of the overall footfall in a year.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also confirmed in an interview with HT that fares for popular trains might go down during the off-season or when there's less occupancy in trains. PTI reported that a December-11 letter by the railway board asked the committee to analyse how the 'flexi-fare' system had worked in generating revenue and its impact on the passenger footfall.
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.
Meanwhile, in a query on social website Quora, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal defended the government's bullet train project, saying it's a part India's developmental plans. Replying to the question 'Does India actually need a bullet train?' Goyal wrote a comprehensive answer on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project saying "A major component of India's developmental plan is the upgradation of current rail networks as well as the development of new high speed rail corridors popularly known as bullet trains. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project will herald a new era of safety, speed and service."