Commuters and activists have objected to the Railways’ decision to effect surge pricing for popular trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto, saying that the movie is “unjustified” as there has been no major improvement in services.
There are three Duronto trains which operate from the city. Pune-Howrah Duronto (twice a week), Pune-Hazrat Nizamuddin (twice a week) and Pune-Ahmedabad Duronto (thrice a week), all of which are popular. The surge pricing will affect an estimated 14,000 passengers who take one of these trains to go out of Pune and return every week. The hike effected by the Railway Board means that the base fares of these trains will increase by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold subject to a prescribed ceiling limit.
This means that with the rising demand for tickets, the price will automatically increase. While 10 per cent of the seats will be sold at the normal fare in the beginning, it will go on increasing by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold with the ceiling limit at maximum 50 per cent, depending on the demand.
For 2 AC and Chair Car, the maximum hike is 50 per cent while for 3 AC, it is 40 per cent. Other supplementary charges like reservation charges, superfast charge, catering charges and services tax as applicable shall remain unchanged.
Activists say that the premium tatkal and suvidha schemes launched by the Railways are already receiving poor response. “This is wrong. The Indian Railways is a government-run service. It can’t behave like Ola and Uber. Even these taxi services are warned against applying surge pricing. Also, more importantly, there hasn’t been much improvement in the way railways operate or the nature of facilities provided despite the fare hike in the last two budgets. If the railway provides world-class services, reduce the travel time, makes the journey secure — nobody would object to the fare hike. However, without delivering anything, they are burdening the commuters. How do you even justify this,” said Harsha Shah of Railway Pravasi Group.
Kiran Satale, a Digital Marketing professional, said if he has to pay Rs 4,500 for an AC II tier berth (considering the 40 per cent surge pricing for a Pune to Delhi journey), he would rather travel by air. “I don’t know what kind of thinking is going into forming such policies. People would rather choose to fly,” he said.