Kolkata: Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani on Sunday hinted at a change in flexi-fare system in premium trains, saying there will be some tweaking which will benefit both passengers and railways.
Lohani, who earlier headed Air India, said flexi pricing structure works well in competitive transportation like the airlines, where private operators vie with each other to increase occupancy. But when it comes to trains, the Indian Railways is the only passenger service operator and flexi-fare system may not be conducive for passengers, the Railway Board chairman said.
In the present flexi-fare system, train fares go up as soon as a certain number of seats are booked in premium trains. “There will be some tweaking in some areas which will be beneficial to both passengers and the railways,” Lohani said.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said that instead of flexi-fares, a dynamic pricing system was being considered where discounts could be given during off season. The fares would automatically adjust through artificial intelligence, algorithms or technology, to help trains have more occupancy, thus maximising revenues, the minister had said.
On a visit to the city to review progress of work in eastern, south eastern and Metro Railways headquartered in Kolkata, the chairman said that overall punctuality of passenger trains stood at 70 to 75%.
“While punctuality is an issue, safety is also of great concern and we have laid utmost stress on track maintenance and repairs,” he said. Stating that track maintenance work leads to delay in train movement, he said this is a vicious circle but safety is foremost and has been given priority over punctuality.
Lohani, an officer with the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers, who was brought back from Air India to head the Railway Board in August 2017 after a string of accidents, assured that once track maintenance work has been streamlined and safety issues are taken care of, punctuality of trains would rise.