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Railways to offer major discounts: Flexi fare to be revamped says Piyush Goyal

By Vicky

The railways would soon dish out disounts on tickets if trains are not fully boarded, Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal said. Goyal's remarks came days after the Railway Board formed a six-member committee to review the flexi-fare scheme.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal

Speaking after a day-long conclave of senior officials in the capital, he said that the national transporter is studying a model of dynamic pricing which is offered by the airlines and hotels.

"We have been deliberating on a dynamic pricing policy. We had been discussing that the price should not go up but I want to take it a step further. I am exploring a possibility where, if trains are not fully-booked, we can offer discounted fares."

He also questioned why flexi-fares should only mean an increase in the price of rail tickets. "Just like the airlines and hotels where a person gets discount at the last minute, it (the railways) should also offer discounts on the routes with relatively low occupancy," he said.

The six-member committee, set up on December 11, has been mandated to recommend ways to offer a more lucrative scheme which may include loyalty and other benefits to the passengers.

The board has also asked the panel to consider modifications or amendments to the the flexi-fare system to offer passengers flexibility of rates during peak season, lean season or during week days, weekends or festivals.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within 30 days.

The flexi-fare system, launched in September 2016, led to up to 50 per cent increase in fares. Under the formula, base fares increase from 10 per cent to 50 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths booked.

While revenue increased, the railways lost passengers as several berths remained vacant, officials said.

Goyal also said that in the coming year, plans are being made to maximise utilisation of assets.

"In the airlines, we see the maintenance of an aircraft is completed within 30 minutes and it is prepared for another journey. In the same way, the railway rakes should be utilised to full capacity."

"It is a saying that one should be able to sweat one's assets. Right now a Rajdhani Express train from Delhi to Mumbai stays at the station for maintenance. It can be maintained and cleaned by 22 teams in 30 minutes and again be prepared to go on a journey of two or three hours, beside its original return journey," he said.

"It can be utilised for a small trip in that time. Going ahead I would want that the trip between Delhi and Mumbai be completed within 11 hours while half-an-hour on each side goes in maintenance. So a round trip would become possible," the minister said.

He was replying to a question on whether the railways was exploring the possibility of a Rajdhani Express train making a round trip within 24 hours to maximise utilisation.

Goyal said that while the national transporter was already trying out an experiment on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani by using two engines, he has also suggested that the train should depart from Delhi at 5pm instead of 4pm, allowing people one more hour to do work.

"It should reach Mumbai by 7am instead of 6am in the morning, allowing people to sleep for an additional hour," he added.

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