With low-cost carriers becoming increasingly expensive, frequent fliers, particularly between Delhi and Mumbai, have switched to train travel.
In July, there was a 47 per cent jump in earnings from reserved tickets in trains originating across North India.
“In May and June, the number of passengers who went from Delhi to Mumbai was 33.7 per cent more than usual,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity. “We had to augment capacity in every train to carry that additional load.”
Fourteen extra coaches have been attached to 12 Rajdhanis. Twelve Shatabdis have got 19 extra coaches, while around 50 mail/express trains have got 80 additional compartments.
A few months back, a one-way ticket from Delhi to Mumbai on a low-cost carrier would have cost around Rs 2500. Today, the cheapest ticket costs Rs 3865 and within low-cost carriers alone, the price goes up to Rs 5028.
In comparison, an air-conditioned three-tier ticket on the Rajdhani is Rs 1495. Even if you travel first class the ticket is Rs 3,105. For non-Rajdhani trains between Delhi and Mumbai, the A/C three-tier ticket is Rs 1208 and the first class one is Rs 2795.
The number of passengers travelling on the Rajdhani from Delhi to Mumbai has increased by nearly 20 per cent in the past two months.
When cost accountant Rakesh Vasani’s employers cut down on his outstation trips a few months back, he shifted to travelling by the Rajdhani. “Trains are certainly more comfortable, with food and a place to sleep,” he says.
“For every increase of Rs 100 in airfare, around 2 per cent business shifts to alternative mode of transport,” said Anil Kalsi, chairman of Travel Agents’ Association of India.
For metros like Mumbai, many frequent fliers have begun taking the Rajdhani at least one way. And for short haul destinations like Chandigarh and Jaipur, the ridership has largely shifted to the Shatabdis.