Railway officials said on Friday that no notable difference was witnessed in the rail booking pattern of commuters on the first day of implementation of the new rail surge fare regime for passengers travelling in Rajdhanis, Shatabdis, and Duronto. “There was no dip or jump in bookings for air-conditioned coaches for these premium train services Friday,” a senior railway official said.
The dynamic price regime, where base fares for AC tier-II and AC-tier III increase after 10 per cent seats are booked, was rolled out from Friday. The new regime has already been a subject of intense debate. But on the first day at least, the new regime failed to record any noticeable change in trend. “We did not notice any specific change in booking pattern for any of these trains. But a detailed study in the coming days would give a better picture,” said a senior Central Railway official.
Railway officials claim that in the long run, commuters would appreciate the new regime. “If one carefully studies the dynamic pricing model, less than 1% of long-distance travellers will be affected. Also, commuters always have the option of opting for other trains for their destinations or choosing other modes of transport. The model would usher in more revenue for railways, allowing it to offer better facilities. It will also benefit regular travellers who will book tickets in advance to bag the first 10 per cent seats,” said A K Srivastava, Additional General Manager, Central Railway.
In the ongoing festive season, railway officials feel that the frequency of families travelling to distant places will see a spurt. The new model will thus lead to an increase in ticket revenue. “We feel commuters will continue to travel in these premium trains for a faster mode of travel. Also, the fares continue to be competitive when compared with air travel,” a railway official said.
Interestingly, government flier Air India has decided not to impose surge pricing for unsold seats on flights to metro cities. This would mean booking a last minute Air India flight to a metro might become cheaper than a last minute booking for a Rajdhani train.