Come April and a passenger can avail the opportunity of travelling in Rajdhani or Shatabdi trains even if he or she has booked tickets in other mail/express trains for the same destinations. Railways is launching a new scheme from April 1 under which waitlisted passengers can get confirmed accommodation in the next alternative train if they opt for the option while booking their tickets.
As per the scheme, there would be no extra charges taken from the passenger or any refund provided for the difference of fare. Known as ‘Vikalp’, the alternative train accommodation scheme aims to utilise vacant berths in many premier trains including Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto and other special service such as Suvidha trains in all major routes.
Railways has to forego about Rs 7,500 crore in a year in refund to customers for cancellation of tickets for various reasons. Describing the scheme as a “passenger friendly” move to provide confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers in alternative trains, a senior Railway Ministry official said, “We aim to achieve the twin objectives of providing confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers and ensure optimal utilisation of available accommodation by this scheme.”
After introduction of flexi-fare system in premier trains, some berths are going vacant while at the same time many passengers could not be accommodated in other Mail/Express trains due to huge demand. “In any case these berths are running vacant. So whatever we can save in refund is going to be a neat save for us. No additional cost is involved to railways so anything we save will be earnings for railways,” the official added.
Currently, railways is running the scheme in six routes including Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Jammu and Delhi-Mumbai sectors since November 1, on a pilot basis. The system is available for online ticketing now but it will be extended to over the counter sale also as the required software is being readied for the purpose. As per the scheme, waitlisted passengers of a train would be given option of getting confirmed accommodation in the next train running on the route.
While there is a huge demand for train berths in certain sector round the year, some routes witness increased rush during festive season. The passenger, if opts for the ‘Vikalp’ scheme while booking tickets, will get SMS alert on his/her mobile phone about getting confirmed accommodation in the alternative train. The name of the passenger who has been provided accommodation in the alternative train will not figure in the waitlisted charts of their original train, the official said, adding that a separate list of passengers transferred in alternative train will be pasted along with the confirmed and waitlist charts.