CHENNAI: Only a little more than half of the Premium Tatkal tickets, a scheme introduced on 11 trains in Southern Railway, were procured between October 1 and November 23, official data indicate.
The scheme had placed 50% of Tatkal tickets on certain popular trains in the dynamic fare basket. Based on supply and demand, a Premium Tatkal ticket could cost more than double the normal fare. However, the unsold Premium Tatkal tickets are transferred to the normal Tatkal quota, which helps clear the waitlist, Southern Railway said.
Of the 11 trains, only one registered more than 70% Premium Tatkal utilization. Eight of them had less than 50% utilization, while the Coimbatore-Jaipur and Raptisagar Express registered 17.89 and 21.82%, respectively. Only two 2AC tickets were sold on the tri-weekly Raptisagar Express in the period for which data was available.
The primary reason for rejection, according to officials, was the fare structure. Several railway officials and booking staff Express spoke to since the scheme was introduced on October 1, said passengers would not prefer to pay such high fares.
“The cost of a Premium Tatkal 2AC ticket on a long distance train is equivalent to an air ticket. Why then would Premium Tatkal be attractive?” an official wondered.
People in South India might not want to shell out such exorbitant rates for train tickets even during festival times, another official said, when asked about the 46.69% occupancy on the Egmore-Sengottai Pothigai Express.
Official figures for the highest fare of a Premium Tatkal ticket sold on these trains were unavailable with Southern Railway. Some rail passengers who have utilized this facility point out that the fare is cheaper compared to bus, but only if you book early.
“Though I paid a premium of `100 on a Bangalore-Chennai Tatkal ticket, it turned out to be cheaper than bus fare. But prices rocket once the availability decreases,” said Anish Sampath, a chartered accountant. This could probably explain why there were no takers for the remaining 50-60% Premium Tatkal tickets, he added.