Mumbai: Dynamic rail fares cross Rs 9,000 ahead of Diwali

Tatkal train tickets for the Diwali holidays are now three times more expensive with the new dynamic pricing; officials say this will ensure availability of tickets for last-minute bookings

The Indian Railways’ new ‘Premium Tatkal Ticket’ scheme could well derail Mumbaikars’ Diwali travel plans, with Tatkal tickets now costing three times as much as before. On certain routes going out of the city, ticket fares have crossed Rs 9,000 for October 18 and 19, the weekend before Diwali festivities and holidays begin.

With tickets now available at three times their price ahead of Diwali, Mumbaikars’ travel plans during the holidays could be derailed.  File pic for representation
With tickets now available at three times their price ahead of Diwali, Mumbaikars’ travel plans during the holidays could be derailed.  File pic for representation

Starting October 3, IR began to implement the dynamic pricing scheme for 50 per cent of the Tatkal tickets for select trains. While half of the Tatkal tickets are sold at regular Tatkal rates, once they run out, the second half is sold at floating rates that multiply with increasing demand.

The prices of 2AC and 3AC tickets for the Mumbai-Delhi special train on October 19 went up all the way to Rs 7,715 and Rs 6,485 per ticket respectively, under dynamic pricing. The demand for Bandra Terminus-Lucknow train seems to have pushed the rates higher as well, with 2AC tickets being sold at Rs 9,225 and 3A tickets at Rs 6,700. Similarly, the Mumbai Central-Jaipur train fares on October 20 for 2AC and 3AC were sold for Rs 6,695 and Rs 5,325.

These fares are barely Rs 3,000 less than the fares for flights on these routes, which have presently touched Rs 12,000. “The demand for these trains tickets is likely to go up further as Diwali nears,” said a Western Railway official, adding that the prices would be hiked further with the surge in demand. There is, however, a limiting slab that the dynamic fares won’t cross.

Authorities claim that under normal circumstances, the demand for tickets would peak substantially, and many would not have found available tickets. Normally, around eight to ten per cent of the total seats are reserved and sold under the Tatkal quota to ensure that tickets are available at the last minute as well. However, travellers have complained in the past that even Tatkal tickets are sold out within minutes of release.

The problem is exacerbated by touts, who book tickets in advance and then fleece customers who buy the tickets off them at the last minute. The railway police recently busted a gang which had cached the booking process and developed a software to expedite the whole process. This only made matters worse for citizens who tried booking tickets online.

The dynamic pricing system will help to discourage touts, and will ensure that seats are available for passengers who genuinely need them, said officials. “Until now, people had complained that even Tatkal tickets were not available. Now, under the new dynamic pricing system, people can at least be assured that tickets will
be available until the last moment,” said Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway. “Here the fares increase depending on the demand for tickets. If the demand surges; so will the fares, but if the demand is moderate then there won’t be much of a hike,” he added.

The system also considers factors such as the number of people booking, the time gap between two bookings, growth in demand for tickets and dates for which the tickets are being booked.

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