Is flexi fare in Indian Railway in Public Interest?

Indian Railways is the backbone of the transportation of our country. It is one of the world’s largest railway networks over a route of seven thousand stations. It connects most of the sections of our country. So it is very important to take care of this important mode of journey. A new kind of innovation is taking place in Indian Railways. But talks are needed on a common platform to fetch collective consensus.

A couple of year back ‘Bibek Debroy Committee’ suggested ways to mobilize resources for the Indian Railways and restructure the Railway Board, had favored privatization of rolling stock like wagons and coaches. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearly refused such plans by saying that rumors were being aired. In fact, he could not say such things very straightly. But a step toward privatization has been taken very intelligently on the name of new kind of innovations and better serving to people. Flexy fare is the name of that first step.

Along with time relation between government and people has been changing. If we try to peep into colonial period, then we will find that relation between government and people has been like public master. It means administrations was to ensure and maintain law and order at any cost irrespective of loses of human values. People walked long path with such behavior. A struggle was done to change the behaviors of government toward public and democratic setup was needed to build. After the end of 20th century this relation has ended up.

From the beginning of 21st century the relation between government and public seems like trader and customer respectively. Especially after 1991 such sorts of changes have been seen through new economic policy and other government laws. Even today many things are changing according to the satisfaction of corporate people on the name of ease of doing business. Yes, ease of doing business is required parameter but others parameters are need to be taken into consideration.

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Such kind of behavior has two faces. The first face says that it is good because it comes through an innovation that is completely based on ensuring consumer satisfaction. That is our goal. So we should develop and scrutinize such an administrational approach. Another face counters the above statements by proposing its facts that the relation between government and public should be very soft. Only soft behavioral approach suits a democratic framework.

It is so because democracy talks about totality not for individuals. Every person is equal before law and facilitation. The relation between government and public can’t become trader and consumer respectively. Such changes are first walk toward privatization. The government is adding such things so that power and work share could be divided and some professionals could perform their work efficiently.

The government is moving toward privatization indirectly. Steps taken by the government are proof of it. Before this only Tatkal tickets are allowed other than regular tickets. The main intention behind Tatkal tickets was not to earn more money but to provide facilitation to those people who want to travel for the short notice. But government added premium Tatkal which is based on dynamic fare. Its rate will not be fixed but varies as par demand.

This is applicable to all trains. Now flexy fares are added to some of the train for regular tickets which will be based on dynamic fare. After sometime it will be added to all. A couple of years back only reservation charges are added worth of Rs 10. Now people are paying reservation charge of worth Rs40 along with service tax, superfast charge, travel insurance and dynamic fare. Things are being created very complex and costly so that it could be shifted very easily. 

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I don’t know what kind of unbalanced business is taking place into our railway system. Government can show their achievements on paper as developments in railways but practically it seems as some sorts of cheating. We don’t get tickets even 3 months before. If we didn’t get, it doesn’t only mean that there was huge demand of tickets. Thing is that a massive black marketing of tickets is being done where our institutions are also playing a vital role. They reserved 10% of the available berths reserved as Tatkal for the Sleeper Class.

Apart from Tatkal there are huge number of quotas like Ladies, Defense, Foreign tourists, Parliament house quota, Duty pass quota etc. Now you can imagine how much seats left for general tickets. In short we can say that railway is being distracted from its own path and values for which it is known. In upcoming days, it will be really very difficult to distinguish the noticeable difference between public sector and private sector. Railways will be the first path of its motion.

The story does not end here. Apart from Tatkal one more classification has been done so far as Premium Tatkal. Now you may astonish to hear so. Ab ye kya bala hai? This is also a kind of Baniyagiri. Basically strategies of ‘Tatkal ticket’ is made for those people to journey for very short notice at emergency time. Premium Tatkal is far away from such concepts. Very interesting thing about this formula is that Indian railways come up with a new plan to increase their earnings through Tatkal facility by introducing ‘DYNAMIC PRICE TECHNIQUE’.

You will be again surprised what kind of this technique is? It means ticket price will be decided by its current demand it will go up accordingly like airplane ticket. Be happy you will be enjoying facilities of plane in rail also. This is a new innovation so far, no one have ever done. People say that everybody will purchase it because they want railway ticket at any cost. A couple of days back I was booking ticket from Katpadi to Ara for my parents. You will be astonished to know that 35 seats were remaining till night. No was there to purchase that tickets because prices were exactly doubled to the base price.

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The same process of dynamic price will be added on regular ticket also. The government has started with some few special trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi but I am sure that it will also be added to all trains in upcoming time. Government brought sudden hike of 14% in ticket procurement. Apart from that they brought many indirect changes like double increment in reservation against cancellation, changes in regulations regarding booking of tickets and cancellation timing.

The government will face challenges in public traveling too along with transportation of goods. I am sure that the government would have not hiked the rate of transportation of goods and industrial inputs like coal through the railway. If you try to get the answer regarding that then you may get that railways have been lagging and losing competitiveness in transportation as compared to Roadways. Another answer you may get that they are offering ease of doing business under Make in India. But what about Make of India? We the people….

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