Surge pricing in train travel; Opp calls it ‘anti-people’

RSTV Bureau
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has question the logic of dividend payment by overburdened Railways.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has question the logic of dividend payment by overburdened Railways.

The surge pricing system for the railways introduced by the Centre has come under criticism by the opposition parties. Targeting no less than the Prime Minister, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said that ruling BJP’s model is “rob common people and give relief to some industry friends”.

The BJP-led NDA government on Wednesday introduced a dynamic surge pricing system where a passengers travelling by Rajdhani, Shatadbi and Duronto trains will have to shell out between 10 and 50 per cent more.

According to the system, 10 per cent of the seats will be sold in the normal fare in the beginning, but it will go on increasing by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold with a ceiling of 50 per cent.

“We are introducing the flexi fare system which is dynamic in nature in these trains on an experimental basis and it will be reviewed after 3/4 months,” Railway Board member Mohd Jamshed said, adding “It will also act as a measure against touts.”

Modelled on the dynamic fare system in vogue in the aviation sector, the flexi fare system will be introduced on experimental basis in II AC, III AC, Chair Car in the three trains besides Sleeper class in Duronto trains. First AC and Executive Class have been kept out of the new system of the already prevailing high tariffs.

File photo of Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Photo: PTI

File photo of Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Photo: PTI

The system to be introduced from September 9 is aimed at raking in Rs 500 crore more during the current financial year. The passenger revenue target for the current fiscal is Rs 51,000 crore as against Rs 45,000 crore in the last fiscal, an increase of Rs 6000 cr for 2016-17.

For II AC and Chair Car, the maximum hike will be 50 per cent while for III AC, it will be 40 per cent. Other supplementary charges like reservation charges, superfast charge, catering charges, service tax as applicable shall remain unchanged.

Coming down heavily on the Centre’s move, the principal opposition dubbed it as “anti-people” move aimed at “stealing” money from public pockets.

“Overburdening the common man by surge pricing formula in garb of dynamic fare reflects the anti-people mindset of Modi government… Modi government seems to have borrowed this ‘illegal’ profiteering idea with a view to steal money from pockets of people of India,” AICC incharge of media department Randeep Surjewala said.

Describing the proposed dynamic surge pricing system as “another way to loot public”, JD (U) leader KC Tyagi said, “Railways is in perpetual loss. No facilities or safety measures have been strengthened in trains. But still they hiked the fares.”

CPI national secretary D Raja said this will be a burden on the people.

“They (government) should have had made some announcement in the budget (for 2016-17) that they intend to increase (the fares). They have taken people by surprise,” he said.

(With inputs from the PTI)