Despite facing widespread criticism, the Railways on Sunday defended its decision to implement "flexi fare" pricing of tickets on three premium trains, saying it was still a cheaper mode of travelling compared to air travel and road transport.
Addressing a press conference here, Railway Board Member (Traffic), Mohammad Jamshed told reporters that "flexi fare" pricing is not new to Railways and it began in 1997 with introduction of Tatkal service.
"The premium trains, Suvidha trains and Gatiman Express are also based on ‘flexi fare’ pricing," he said.
Jamshed also gave a power point presentation and compared the fares of Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi express trains running from Delhi to different destinations with flights.
"Railways is still cheaper than flights and buses," he said, comparing the fares of Shatabdi Express running between Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Chandigarh with flights and Volvo buses between these cities.
Jamshed also said that railways earned revenue of Rs.160 lakh through "flexi fare" pricing of tickets in the first two days, and added that it expects additional revenue of Rs.500 crore in the current financial year.
He said Railways will constantly review the decision and take a final call later.
He denied that "flexi fare" pricing will be implemented on other trains.
"We don’t have any proposal for other trains," he said.
The flexi fares on the Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto Express trains, effective from September 9, was announced on Wednesday.
According to the new system, the base fares of these trains will increase by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold, subject to a ceiling limit.
The Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the CPI-M and other opposition parties were vocal in their criticism of the move and have demanded its axing. Even BJP leaders have been opposing it.