Premium trains run with vacant seats, Travellers opting flights due to hiked train fares

Premium trains run with vacant seats, Travellers opting flights due to hiked train fares

New Delhi, October 4: The flight tickets are cheaper than the train fares. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced last week that the scheme of flexi fares must be reviewed that was introduced in September 2016 reflects the growth in railway revenue even though the premium trains run with empty seats.

The railway revenues have grown by 500 crores in the one year since the flexi fare scheme was introduced on premium and express trains, the number of passengers has dropped significantly. The premium trains such as the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express is running with vacant seats. According to data from Western Railway, earlier bookings must be done months in advance to ensure a confirmed ticket. But after the introduction of the flexi fare system up to 30% of seats remain unoccupied on any day.

The flight tickets are way cheaper than the fares in Rajdhani express. Most airlines are also losing money but they must keep their prices low so that passengers should travel regularly on their flights. The prices of first-class fares in Rajdhani Express is way higher than the airfares. People who always book the first-class compartment on the train two months in advance, booking flight tickets is a better option as the rates are less when compared to train fares.

At the same time, Rajdhani express takes more than 16 hours to travel to Mumbai while flight only takes two hours. The airfare wars are expected to continue as Spicejet Ltd, Indigo and other airlines hold down their fares to fill up the seats and are in tight competition with the newcomer AirAsia.

The Flexi fare scheme was started from September 9, 2016.  Only 10% of the seats were booked at the regular fare. Afterwards, the fare increased by 10% with every 10% of the seats booked. The Flexi fare scheme is not applicable for first class AC and executive class. This scheme is applicable to all premium trains including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express. The passengers have raised concerns over the increase in the fares and as a result of it, most passengers have chosen to fly instead of taking trains.

Rajiv Singhal who is a member of the Divisional Railway User’s Consultative Committee said that “It is high time the Railways thought they are a profit-making organization rather than a service-oriented one. Many passengers have shifted to flights due to the increasing fares.”