The railways has finally decided to substantially revise its flexi-fare policy after two years of indecision, with the file now awaiting the approval of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, sources have said.
Ahead of the general elections, the revision will entail a huge relief for passengers who, under the scheme, sometimes have to pay at par with flight tickets in some sectors for trains.
The relief, however, will be in select premium trains which have seen a substantial decrease in passenger bookings, the sources said.
These trains, sources have indicated are likely to be from the Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh routes, which are the high density network of railways.
However, officials are not keen to share particulars of the revised flexi-fare scheme as despite the approval of both the Railway Board as well as the Finance Commissioner, sections could still be further revised if they are not approved by Piyush Goyal.
Sources in Mr Goyal's office indicated that the decision will be taken soon.
"It can only be final if it is approved by the minister. He could decide to waive it from all trains rather than from select ones. There have been suggestions made by a committee earlier which have been approved by the board, which can be rejected by the minister. So, one needs to wait for the final approval," said a senior official involved in the process.
On the direction of Piyush Goyal, the railways had constituted a committee last year to review the dynamic pricing scheme, but its report was rejected by him.
Sources said this time, many of the provisions made in the committee's report have been tweaked and approved by the board and have been sent for the minister's perusal.
Key among them are identifying and grading prices of train tickets according to 'lean' and 'peak' seasons, according to 'last minute bookings', rate of occupancy, patronisation of trains and their timings.
Competitive pricing will also be key to generate revenue for the scheme, which had earned the national transporter an additional Rs 500 crore in less than a year.
One of the options that is likely to be adopted is revising the scheme as per a formula used in the Humsafar trains in which the first 50 per cent berths will be sold at a 15 per cent higher price than the base price of A/C-3 tier mail and express train tickets.
The slab will go up with every 10 per cent of the berth sold thereafter.
Similarly, the board has also suggested options to bring in special discounts under the scheme in less busy routes.
The scheme was introduced for 44 Rajdhani, 46 Shatabdi and 52 Duronto trains - all in premium super-fast category.
The scheme which was launched on September 9, 2016, had led to up to 50 per cent increase in fares and under the formula, base fares increase from 10 per cent to 50 per cent every 10 per cent of berths booked.