In a bid to take on airlines, the Indian Railways plan to lure more passengers by revoking the flexi-fare scheme in some trains and offering discounts in others.
The move comes just at the start of the festive season when the airlines’ load factor is packed due to discount schemes.
The railways plan to give graded discounts on fares for all classes of current flex-fare trains, four days prior to the scheduled date of the train starting from the originating station. Flexi fares increase the price of tickets as occupancy increases.
The railways would give a discount of up to 20 per cent in the fares of premium trains with occupancy of 70 per cent, while a discount of up to 10 per cent will be given in the trains which have a booking rate of 70-80 per cent.
However, there will be no discount on the fares of the premium trains which have an occupancy rate of more than 80 per cent.
According to a Railway Ministry senior official, the scheme has been discontinued in 15 trains, where the average uni-directional monthly occupancy was less than 50 per cent throughout the year.
“The decision would increase occupancy by over 15 per cent due to lower fares,” the official, who declined to be named, told IANS on Wednesday.
The official said that the railways had decided to discontinue the flexi-fare in a pre-defined lean period of three months in 32 trains with uni-directional monthly occupancy between 50-75 per cent throughout the last fiscal.
The decision assumes significance as it will enable the railways to lure more passengers that it had lost to other means of transport, especially the aviation sector.
In addition, the flexi-fare scheme will continue in over 100 trains in which uni-directional monthly occupancy is more than 75 per cent throughout the year.
The official also said that the changes shall be made on an experimental basis for six months. “Decision to continue it will be taken after accessing its outcome,” the official added.
On September 9, 2016, the railways had introduced flexi-fare for premier trains: 44 Rajdhanis, 52 Durontos and 46 Shatabdi Express trains.
Under this, the base fare increases by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold, subject to a prescribed limit. There was no change in the existing fare for first AC and economy class.
But on December 19, the Railways started providing 10 per cent rebate on any seat left vacant after the preparation of the passenger chart.