An indirect hike in train fares with effect from March 1 through the introduction of a “dynamic pricing” structure for the majority of special trains was announced by the Indian Railways.
The recent move comes ahead of the presentation of the rail budget on February 25.
According to an official circular dated February 3, special trains will henceforth be introduced only on the fare structure of “suvidha trains”.
Besides what are called timetable trains (mail, express and passenger trains), the Railways operates 12 suvidha trains in sectors and periods when there is a surge in passenger demand and special trains during peak traffic seasons.
As reported in the February 10 issue of the Hindustan Times, the Railways had been contemplating a direct or indirect hike in passenger fares to tide over the current financial crisis plaguing the national transporter. “Towards this end, the Railways minister is likely to announce the introduction of more number of suvidha trains in his upcoming budget speech,” sources said.
Fares of suvidha trains are demand-driven, providing an incremental 20% increase in ticket prices after each of the five identified slabs. “Depending on the demand, the special trains will henceforth be run as suvidha trains,” an official said.
“Charging the dynamic pricing on Specials converted as Suvidha trains will depend on demand. If the demand is not there, the Specials will continue to run on the existing fare structure,” the official added.
The official circular also excludes two categories of special trains from the dynamic pricing structure — “unreserved” specials, including the Jansadharan Express, and the trains that are operated to clear passengers held on account of incidents such as accidents, floods or cancellation of trains.