With the flexi-fare system for premier trains, including the Shatabdi Express, coming into effect from September 9, residents are being forced to buy the ticket that is normally priced at Rs 620 at Rs 900 — a premium of around 45%. Significantly, this is even as there were empty seats in the train (evening Shatabdi on Friday) and the ticket was booked on Friday morning itself.
The new pricing system is applicable only on chair car category seats in the Shatabdi.
As things stand after the new pricing formulae, only 70 of the around 700 seats (seats vary between 680-700) in Shatabdis will ever be sold at the base fare of Rs 620. For each next block of 70 seats, the fare will increase by 10% with the last 50% of the seats sold at a 50% premium to the fare without taxes.
A way out to avoid paying the new premium on account of the flexi-pricing can be booking the ticket four months (120 days) in advance of your journey. This results in increased risk of cancellation, where the penalty can be up to 15-20% of the ticket cost.
Travel agents’ view
Ramanjot Singh of Batra Tours and Travels said, “The flexi-fare is a good initiative. However, 25% of the tickets should have been left untouched and fare increase should have been set at 10%, 25% and 50%.”
A frequent traveller by Shatabdi and president, Mohali Petroleum Dealers’ Association, Ashwinder Mongia, said, “The fare has been increased. However, they are yet to improve facilities.”
What is new now?
From September 9, a dynamic fare is charged as a percentage on the base fare without taxes (`404 now) depending on the percentage of seats remaining when you book
No easy way out, as of now
Travel agents say there is no sure-fire way of getting the ticket at the base fare, except plan and book four months in advance of the travel date— the time when bookings open and buy a seat among 10% of the capacity (around 70 in this case). This, however, entails a higher risk of cancellation, again an extra cost for the traveller.