Mumbai: New Suvidha booking scheme to keep check on dynamic rail fares
To ensure that passengers do not land up paying a very high price to book journeys during peak season, the Indian Railways (IR) is coming up with a new scheme called ‘Suvidha’.
Click, Click: One more reason not to queue up. File Pic
Tariffs under Suvidha shall be a maximum of two times more than the actual fare. The scheme is expected to start very soon. After this introduction, the various types of schemes under which trains can be booked are the normal way, Premium, Tatkal and Suvidha.
This idea was thought of in April after IR realised that people booking trains during or before the summer vacations were facing problems. The main reason was soaring prices of rail tickets due to a loophole in the previously launched ticket booking system called ‘dynamic’ fares for Premium trains. Booking under this system was an experience similar to that while booking air tickets. With the growth in demand for tickets, the fares of Premium trains too soared.
Officials said that at times, the fares would touch more than 300 per cent of the actual listed fare component, which automatically burdened passengers as they were paying exorbitantly for confirmed tickets. “There was no interference from the agents and all booking had to be done online. But we realised that at times the tariff of III-AC would be more than II-AC due to rising demand,” explained a senior official.
In order to eliminate this booking anomaly in Premium trains, IR has instructed its IT arm, Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS), to allow passengers to automatically upgrade to a higher class if the fares (after booking) are more than the lower class.
The new Suvidha option will place further restriction on the maximum price that dynamic pricing can throw up. “The new Suvidha system would also work on the same premise like dynamic pricing for Premium trains, but the final booked price wouldn’t increase more than 200 per cent of the actual (listed ticket) price,” said the official.
The Railway Board has decided to let Central and Western Railways decide which trains would be run as Premium or Suvidha, and when these services should ply on their respective networks.
Officials said that during holidays, they would run certain Premium trains, especially to Nagpur, Gorakhpur or Ahmedabad, where the demand is high and people are ready to pay even 300 per cent more for confirmed tickets. However, during non-peak timings, the same trains can be run as Suvidha special trains as well.
The Railway Board has asked all General Managers to identify which trains are running at low occupancy rate under the normal, Premium or Tatkal systems so that these services can be accommodated under the Suvidha scheme. The authorities will also make provisions online that will state the nature of train booking for a particular service available, on the website — normal, Premium, Tatkal or Suvidha.