Railways is considering introduction of dynamic fare pricing for all reserved classes in all express and mail trains, similar to the mechanism followed by airlines.
As of now, the dynamic fare pricing system, under which fare goes up if the demand is high, is operational in limited number of special ‘Suvidha’ trains. The transporter, which is incurring huge loses on subsidizing low passenger tariff, is considering the proposal after the success of premium trains and Suvidha trains.
“Yes, we are considering the proposal,” said Sharat Chandra Jethi, additional member (commercial), Railway Board, when asked about the move. A source said the details of the plan are still under discussion stage.
However, the move, according to a senior railways official, is aimed at ensuring easy availability of confirmed tickets to genuine passengers and to raise more resources. He said the recent decision to change cancellation norms—doubling the cancellation charges and no refund on cancellation of confirmed tickets four hours before scheduled departure of the train—is also a move in the same direction to help genuine passengers and break the touts hold on the ticketing system.
“People were ready to pay if they get a confirmed berth. Dynamic pricing and strict cancellation provisions will help genuine travelers and discourage touts,” he added. Jethi said railways could provide reservation to additional 10% of passengers due to implementation of new cancellation and refund rules from November 13-20. He added higher cancellations charges deterred customers from aborting their journey plans at the last minute and will check the menace of touts.
Faced with decline in passenger traffic in the last few years in both suburban and non-suburban short distance routes and massive losses in this segment due to low fares, the national transporter is discussing different ways to generate revenue from passengers of reserved category travelling on high-density long routes.
The plan gained momentum after an eight-member committee, consisting of railway officials, recommended introduction of dynamic fare system for all mail and express trains in May this year. The panel was appointed by railways minister Suresh Prabhu to examine factors affecting growth of passenger and freight traffic and suggest a plan of action for traffic optimisation.
The committee found that there has been reduction in number of passengers being carried by railways except in reservation segment during last five years. While there is decline in number of passengers in both suburban and non-suburban short route traffic, it was noticed that the long distance reserved category traffic has shown robust growth.
“The current railway dispensation wants to tap this segment,” an official said.