In a bid to fill the vacant seats in trains and meet the challenges posed by the roadways and airways, the Indian Railways has decided to give discount of up to 25 per cent to passengers on ticket fares.
According to the Railways, the decision will be applicable in air-conditioned executive class and chair cars of trains like Shatabdi Express, Gatiman Express, Tejas Express, Double Decker and Intercity Express.
"A decision on giving discount of passenger fare was taken today (Tuesday) and a circular has been issued to all the zonal managers," a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS.
He said, under this rule passengers will be given up to 25 per cent discount on the base fare in selected trains with less than 50 per cent occupancy.
According to the circular, the percentage of discount on the fare and the right to decide the route of the train has been given to the Principal Chief Commercial Manager of the Zonal Railways.
Along with this, a guideline has also been issued under which trains and their route will be selected.
The official said that the new guideline is based on the occupancy of the train in the last year. It also said that discounted fare can be given for the full year or part of a year, or month wise or seasonal or weekdays or weekends.
"If the passenger occupancy is less on the entire route or it is less in between any two special stations, a decision will be taken on that basis," it said.
Citing examples, the railway official said a lot of seats remain vacant from Kanpur to Lucknow of Lucknow Shatabdi running from Delhi.
"In such a situation, the railways will waive passenger fares in that section," he said.
He also cited the example of Ajmer Shatabdi, which runs from Delhi to Ajmer and said that many seats remains vacant between Jaipur to Ajmer.
"Volvo bus service is the first choice among travellers shuttling between Jaipur and Ajmer," he added.
Under the new strategy, Railways will aim to attract passengers by offering less fare than Volvo buses on such routes.
Likewise, the Railways on a pilot project is providing 10 per cent fare or fixed fares on routes -- Chennai-Mysore Shatabdi Express between Bengaluru-Mysuru section, in Delhi-Ajmer Shatabdi Express between Jaipur-Ajmer, in Delhi-Lucknow Shatabdi Express between Kanpur-Lucknow, and in New Jalpaigudi-Howrah Shatabdi Express between Malda-New Jalpaigudi.
Now this pilot will be implemented on all trains with AC chair car coaches.
The railways has asked all the zonal railways to identify the trains with less occupancy and inform it by September 30.
"If found feasible, the same shall be implemented with effect from applicable advance reservation period for the train on experimental basis for an initial period of six months," it said.