NEW DELHI:A CAG report has recommended a review of the flexi-fare scheme introduced by the Railways in September 2016, noting that airfares for different advance reservation periods in 13 sectors were lower than the respective train fares for several sectors.
The CAG report on Railways, tabled in Parliament on Friday, noted that given the cost and time taken for travel by premier trains, air travel was a cheaper and preferable mode of travel.“While in airfares the prices of tickets increase with increase in demand, in flexi-fare, there is a fixed increase in fares after every 10 per cent of the tickets are booked. Railways may review and fine-tune the scope of the scheme so that not only more revenue is earned but number of passengers also increase, thus, further enhancing revenue,” said the national auditor.
The Ministry of Railways introduced the flexi-fare scheme in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains in September 2016. The report says that the scheme resulted in a decrease in occupancy in all classes except the Sleeper class in Duronto trains.
“In AC 3 class also, which was one of the most profitable classes, the occupancy dropped significantly after introduction of flexi-fare and the vacant berths increased from 0.66 per cent in pre-flexi period to 4.46 per cent in post-flexi period,” it said.
In terms of absolute numbers, the premier trains carried 2,40,79,899 passengers during post-flexi period as compared to 2,47,36,469 passengers during the pre-flexi period, a reduction of 2.65 per cent despite the availability of higher numbers of berths/seats, resulting in sub-optimal utilisation of national assets.
The report says occupancy in Mail and Express trains in routes where premier trains run is higher than that of premier trains, indicating that instead of premier trains, passengers prefer to travel by Mail or Express trains despite their longer travel times.