Travelling by trains will no longer be cheaper. In a decision that is likely to invite sharp criticism from not just passenger, but even political parties, the government on Wednesday announced the introduction of surge pricing in the ticket booking, which will set the fare soaring. Officials said the new formula could lead to 1.5 times increase in fares in premium trains like Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi, bringing even the 3AC fare almost at par with the Airfare.
Under the new formula, the ‘flexi fare system’ would have base fares increasing from 10 percent to 50 percent with every 10 percent of berths booked. Railways is expecting to earn Rs 500 crore in current financial year from new fare structure in 42 Rajdhanis, 46 Shatabdis and 54 Durontos.
There will be no change in the existing fare for 1AC and executive class of travel. The revised fares will come into effect force September 9. It is likely to be a big blow to passengers looking at affordable train journey. This is for the first time in recent times that Rail ministry has effected such a steep hike in the base fare.
For example if a passenger books Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani 3AC ticket after Sep 9, the highest fare difference will be Rs 650 from the present. The 3AC ticket on September 9 costs Rs 2736, while the cheapest flight — Delhi-Mumbai Air India costs Rs 3393. If a person books the Air ticket on the same route, a month later, on October 5, the fare between the two cities would be Rs 2299, which is even less than 3AC train fare. However, this comparison would hold if the already 40 percent of the tickets are sold out, so the surge pricing would be running at its peak.
The steepest fare hike comes despite the polls in crucial states UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa next year. Opposition slammed the government’s move saying surge pricing by railways is anti-passenger and senseless.
In the case of tickets already issued at pre-revised rates, the difference of fare shall not be collected from the passengers. Other supplementary charges like reservation charges, superfast charge, catering charges and service tax as applicable shall be levied separately.
Railway said that vacant berths left at the time of charting would be offered for current booking and tickets under current booking shall be sold at the last price sold for that class and other supplementary charges shall be levied in full.
“The information should also be displayed to the passenger during the booking in case the fare of lower class becomes higher than the higher class to exercise option to travel by the higher class,” railway ministry said in a statement.
In case of Tatkal quota, no additional charges as “Tatkal charges” will be levied and the berths assigned under the Tatkal quota shall be booked at the rate of 1.5 times of the base fare for all classes (2S, SL, 2A, 3A and CC) except 1AC and EC. There is no change in the present limit of berths set aside for Tatkal quota in these trains and there shall be no Premium Tatkal Quota in these train services.
Normal concession as applicable for respective concessional ticket will be admissible on the base fare of the ticket.
The last price for every class of tickets for the particular train should be printed in the reservation chart for the purpose of charging of difference of fare in the train or charging the passengers of the train without ticket.
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