Indian Railway passengers may soon pay less for premium trains tickets

Rail passengers may soon pay less for tickets on premium trains such as the Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto during the off-season or even otherwise when the trains are not fully booked, railway minister Piyush Goyal said in an interview.

Indian Railways moved to a flexi-fare system for these trains in 2016, but this only saw fares moving in one direction — up. For instance, fares would rise 10% after 10% of the seats were sold. The move helped Indian Railways, which made an additional ₹540 crore from it between September 2016 and August 2017, according to media reports.

However, passengers were unhappy because some of them ended up paying the equivalent for a flight fare, sometimes more.

Goyal has previously spoken of the need to review the system, but the Wednesday interview marked the first time anyone in the Railways has said something about truly dynamic pricing.

“Flexi-fare is under review; instead of just one-way flexi-fare (where prices just increase) we can have dynamic fares. During off-season and when trains are not full, we may even be able to give concessional fares,” he explained.

The move is likely to be extremely popular with passengers. Airlines use a similar model, and to good effect.

Goyal added that Indian Railways is also trying to be more sensitive to the needs of passengers and is “modifying the timings” of trains to do this.

He spoke of a new Rajdhani Express between Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin and Mumbai that has been launched; it leaves Delhi at 4 pm and reaches Mumbai at 6 am the following day. “Now we are looking to make it 5 pm so that passengers have an extra hour (of work) and it will reach Bandra (Mumbai) at 7 am; with still enough time to be at work in the morning itself.”

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