New Delhi: Railways is mulling to run special trains with costlier tickets in a bid to tide over the losses in passenger business and also to cater to the growing demand for confirmed tickets.
Dubbed as "dynamic pricing", the proposal entails offering tickets at an increased rate for some special trains in AC-2 and AC-3 classes with catering facility on certain busy routes like Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata sectors.
The issue of dynamic fares prevalent in air fares was discussed by senior railway officials at the Railway Board and it was suggested to experiment it in the Delhi-Mumbai sector on a pilot basis, sources in Railways said.
According to the proposal, tickets at higher rates should be made available at a separate portal of IRCTC ticketing website and the special train with Rajdhani like facility should be launched before Christmas to encash the festive rush.
At present, there are two Rajdhani trains for Mumbai and if the dynamic fare proposal gets the nod then it will be the third Rajdhani for all practical purpose.
"It (dynamic pricing) is just a proposal as we are exploring various options available for increasing the earnings and also to ensure seats for growing number of travelling passengers in some high demand routes," Railway Board Member (Traffic) DP Pandey said.
Dynamic pricing is already being applied in freight business.
Pandey further said, "We just had first round of meeting discussing various options... The dynamic pricing of ticket is one option. But nothing has been finalised yet as it requires more discussion before shaping up the policy."
Currently, the loss in passenger sector is touching Rs 26,000 crore in a year and it is being cross-subsidised from freight earnings.
"Passenger business should not be making loss. The waiting list of passengers is getting longer and longer, then why should passenger business making loss?" Pandey asked.
Railways' earnings have witnessed a decrease by Rs 4000 crore in the April-September period of the current fiscal and the national transporter has cut down expenditure on non-core operation.
Asked on the need for such move, Pandey said, "Many are willing to pay for travelling in safe and comfort.
"But the pricing mechanism has to be worked out as there are certain issues involved with it such as fixing the base price, mode of selling tickets, facilities to be provided, time table and also service tax issue.
"Then what happens if some seats are not sold. Whether prices should be lowered or not under the dynamic policy. So these are issues which need to be addressed before concretising the move," he said.