Dynamic fares hit popularity of Shatabdi to Bengaluru

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CHENNAI: Indian Railways may have earned an additional revenue of 56crore in the first 52 days since dynamic fare pricing was announced on September 9 for premium trains, but a check done on the reservation availability from Chennai revealed that dynamic pricing has brought down the footfalls. Trains which usually have waitlisted tickets for several days in advance are now displaying availability till a few hours before the scheduled departure time. In fact, there are times when tickets are available even after the charts are prepared.
Of the three Shatabdi Expresses operated from Chennai to Mysuru, Bengaluru and Coimbatore, the first two used to run almost full on most days between Chennai and Bengaluru. These trains are mainly preferred by regular travellers as they could reach their destination in five hours flat. But this has changed due to dynamic pricing and people are slowly switching to buses, especially when omni operators and KSRTC bus operators are offering better AC multi-axle services at competitive fares.

Bengaluru Shatabdi has 130 seats available at 975 while on Lalbagh Express chair car seats are on waitlist on the same day for travel on January 3. Night trains also show waitlist. For the next weekend the train has 438 seats. The executive chair car is popular but the fare is a whopping 1,400.

Before the flexi-fare system was introduced, the chair car fare between Chennai and Bengaluru used to be 710, but after its implementation the maximum fare is hovering around 1,100, considered steep for the 360km journey. On the other hand, AC bus fares range somewhere between 500 to 600, with many buses offering facilities such as free Wi-fi and personal television sets.

A TTE on the Bengaluru-Chennai Shatabdi, on condition of anonymity, admitted that the number of passengers has plummeted. "After dynamic pricing system was introduced, we are seeing empty seats. Usually, the train used to run full on weekends and Mondays, but that has changed," he said.

Passengers who feel the pinch of paying more say that dynamic pricing is not justified for shorter distances. S Mohanty, a media professional and a frequent traveller to Bengaluru says, "I used to take Shatabdi once in a while. But, now, I travel either by an Omni bus by paying less or by the Brindavan Express."

A senior railway official said that the pricing is a policy followed by the ministry. "A cap has been brought in fares for these trains to prevent any abnormal surge," he added.
Source - Times Of India

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