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Frequent traveller miles on track

The Railways is now gearing up to launch a loyalty programme to reward ?frequent travellers? on the same lines as airlines.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 04:53 IST

The Railways is now gearing up to launch a loyalty programme to reward ‘frequent travellers’ on the same lines as airlines.

Christened SOFT (Shubh Yatra scheme for frequent travellers), the Indian Railways’ frequent traveller programme promises to be among the most generous loyalty programmes. ‘‘If you check up the rewards programme, nobody gives you this kind of returns,’’ says Amitabh Pande, CEO, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will implement the scheme for Railways.

Credit cards give you back less than one per cent — that is, if you spend Rs 1000, you get less than Rs 10 as reward points. Airlines are no better. Now, if you travel by rail during the lean season, you can earn 10 per cent of the value of the member’s ticket as reward points, and 4 per cent in peak season. The lean season is from January 1 to March 31 and July 15 to September 15.

How attractive is the scheme? Back-of-the-envelope calculations show that if you travel by 2AC to Delhi 16 times in a year (split equally between peak and lean seasons), you get a free ticket. Scheme membership costs Rs 500, and annual renewals, Rs 300.

Consumers will be unhappy that Sleeper Class or 3AC passengers won’t be able to avail of the scheme but the Railways really means business. It has left out the Sleeper Class or AC III tier because there’s enough demand for them. ‘‘The rewards of 10 and 4 per cent are ridiculously large. You can’t give so much where you have the traffic,’’ adds another railway official.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 04:53 IST