New Delhi, sep 14: In a move that will come as a big relief for passengers Indian Railways has decided to scrap flexi-fares for 40 trains.
The flexi-fare scheme is reportedly being scrapped for trains that have shown 50 per cent "utilisation" bookings. Similarly, the plan is being tweaked to offer convenience and competitive fares to travellers and raise revenue for the railways, the report said.
According to reports, a trial run on the Chennai-Mysuru Shatabdi showed that occupancy went significantly up after flexi fares were removed.
Also Read | Only veg meals in trains on Gandhi Jayanti
Once the new system is in place, then half the passengers who book early will get an advantage of a cheaper fare. The aim of the flexi-fare system was to generate additional revenues and reduce cross-subsidisation from freight.
50 per cent discount on 102 trains
Moreover, the Railways will also offer 50 per cent discount for 'last-minute' bookings made for seats available up to four days before the journey in 102 other trains in which the dynamic pricing is applied.
More in the offing
There is also a graded discount system being put in place for trains that see less than 60 per cent bookings. Under this scheme, up to 20 per cent discount could be available, the ToI said.
"The focus is on finding a win-win for passengers as well as the railways. The idea is to respond positively to a passenger grievance and wean them back by making rail travel affordable, competitive and comfortable in comparison to other modes. The idea is to raise revenue through higher utilisation of seats; not by putting burden on passengers," TOI quoted a senior railway official as saying.
To lure back riders
The Railways' latest move is seen as an attempt to lure back the passengers who moved onto air travel after dynamic pricing caused the train fares to become costlier than their aviation counterparts.Needless to say, travellers started opting for a flight ticket instead of a train one.
Flexi-fare widely been criticised
The flexi-fare system has been widely criticised since its introduction. In the current system that was introduced in 2016, the fares rise soon after the first 10 per cent of the tickets on a train are sold. The fares increase 10% with every 10% of the seats sold, with a maximum hike of 1.5 times the normal fares in sleeper, air-conditioned chair car and two-tier AC classes and 1.4 times in three-tier AC.
The flexi-fare system was also criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).