In what is being seen as an attempt by the Indian Railways to fill vacant seats in trains and meet the challenges posed by the roadways and airways, the Indian Railways has decided to give upto 25 per cent discount to passengers on ticket fares. This decision would be applicable to air-conditioned executive class and chair cars of trains like Shatabdi Express, Gatiman Express, Tejas Express, Double Decker and Intercity Express. A senior railway ministry official said, “A decision on giving discount of passenger fare was taken today (Tuesday) and a circular has been issued to all the zonal managers.”
As per the official, under this rule passengers will be given a discount upto 25 per cent on the base fares in select trains with less than 50 per cent occupancy. As per the circular, the the percentage of discount on the fare and the right to decide the route of the train has been given to the Principal Chief Commercial Manager of the Zonal Railways. Along with this, a guideline has also been issued in accordance with which trains and their routes will be selected. The official that the new guideline is based on the occupancy of the train in the last year. It also said that discounted fare can be given for the full year or part of a year, or month wise or seasonal or weekdays or weekends. It said, “If the passenger occupancy is less on the entire route or it is less in between any two special stations, a decision will be taken on that basis.”
The railway official cited the example of Lucknow Shatabdi and said that a lot of seats remain vacant in the said train from Kanpur to Lucknow. He said, “In such a situation, the railways will waive passenger fares in that section.” He also cited the example of Ajmer Shatabdi and said that many seats remain vacant on the Jaipur-Ajmer stretch of the train. He added, “Volvo bus service is the first choice among travellers shuttling between Jaipur and Ajmer.”
The Railways has taken a commendable step by thinking in this direction. This innovative step, once executed, will ensure an increase in the revenue of the national transporter and will also make rail journey convenient and cheaper for regular passengers. The Railways has started thinking out of the box and that is expected to pay rich dividends for the national transporter.