New Delhi: Amid criticism over introduction of dynamic surging fare in premier trains, the railways today claimed that the response is quite good and the flexi-fare is still lower than airfare.
"Our flexi-fare system has got a good response and passengers have responded well to the scheme as there is about 30 per cent booking in the last two days," Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed said here.
The railways has introduced the flex-fare system in Rajdhani, Shatadbi and Duronto trains from September 9, aiming at raking in Rs 500 crore more during the current financial year.
Jamshed said the railways has earned Rs 84 lakh and Rs 81 lakh more on September 9 and 10 respectively from the flex-fare system.
As per the new system, passengers will be shelling out between 10 and 50 per cent more under the surge pricing system.
While 10 per cent of the seats will be sold under the normal fare in the beginning, it will go on increasing by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold with a ceiling of 50 per cent.
Responding to the charge that train fare has now become costlier than airfare, Jamshed told reporters despite flexi-fare system, train travel cost is still lower than airfare.
Showing a detailed fare chart, he said at present, the Shatabdi train fare in the Delhi-Jaipur section is ranging between Rs 640 and Rs 915 while the airfare for the same sector is between Rs 1601 and Rs 2400.
Even road travel is costlier than train fare as AC bus fare for Jaipur from Delhi is between Rs 600 and Rs 1600, he said.
Modelled on the dynamic fare system in vogue in the aviation sector, the flexi-fare system has been introduced on an experimental basis for II AC, III AC and Chair Car in the three types of premier trains, besides Sleeper class in Duronto trains. First AC and Executive Class travel has been kept out of the new system due to already prevailing high tariffs.
On the Delhi-Mumbai sector, Rajdhani fare is between Rs 2870 and Rs 4104 on II AC while airfare is ranging between Rs 2813 and Rs 13,746 for tomorrow, Jamshed said.
The passenger revenue target for the current fiscal is Rs 51,000 crore as against Rs 45,000 crore in the last fiscal, an increase of Rs 6000 crore for 2016-17.
There are a total of 42 Rajdhani, 46 Shatabdi and 54 Duronto trains.
Jamshed said the flexi-fare system has been introduced in only 142 trains out of total 12,000 trains which is just 0.65 per cent of total passenger trains.
Asked why 1 AC and Executive Class have been left out of the flexi-fare scheme, he said, "Tariff rationalisation is based on a whole lot of factors. The fares for 1 AC and Executive Class are on the higher side."
He said the railways will introduce a system for providing loyalty points to frequent train travellers for which the details are being worked out. "They will get Executive Lounge facility at stations," he said.