Delhi

Rail fares to go down as Indian Railways set to dilute flexi-fare formula

The Hush Post: As a relief for passengers, the rail fares may go down soon. The Indian Railways is set to dilute its flexi-fare scheme. It was started in 2016. The Railways is in the final stage of diluting the flexi-fare scheme.

The Railways’ move of diluting flexi-fare scheme will come as a big relief for passengers as ticket prices go down, a report said.

“The Railway Board has sent the final recommendations on flexi-fare scheme to the minister. A final clearance is now awaited,” Financial Express quoted a source as saying.

The report said that recommendations for partially doing away with the flexi-fare scheme have been sent to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. The minister is expected to take a decision soon in this regard.

The report said that the flexi-fare scheme will not be completely done away with. Some modifications will be introduced in line with the demand pattern of the trains.

“There are more than hundred trains on which the flexi-fare scheme is applicable. The recommendations suggest that flexi-fare be removed from some trains. While on others some modifications be made,” FE Online quoted a railway ministry official as saying. “However, till these recommendations are approved by the Railway Minister, nothing is finalised,” the report quoted the official as saying.

The Railway Board has sent the final recommendations on flexi-fare scheme to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal

Meanwhile, a ToI report said that the flexi-fare scheme will be removed from as many as 40 trains. And in 102 trains an offer of up to 50% discount on last-minute ticket booking may be given. It will be applicable for up to four days before the train journey. A graded discount scheme may also be introduced for trains with low occupancy rates, the report said. The move comes after a trial run on the Chennai-Mysuru Shatabdi where occupancy went up after flexi-fare scheme was tweaked.

The Indian Railways’ flexi-fare scheme increases the train ticket tariff as the occupancy rate goes up. The scheme came under criticism from passengers since it was introduced. The scheme was introduced on Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto Express trains. The train fare increases by 10% as every 10% of the berths/seats are occupied/sold. There is a tariff cap of 140% for AC-III tier class of travel. And that of 150% for all classes except AC First and Executive Chair Car. Ironically, after the flexi-fare scheme was introduced, it became cheaper to travel by air on some routes.

Recently, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) also slammed Railways’ flexi-fare scheme in an ad hoc way. As per CAG, on several routes the scheme was introduced, passengers switched to air travel as a more affordable option. The CAG recommended the Railways should rationalise flexi-fare scheme and continue with it only on routes where the demand warrants.

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