A parliamentary panel has recommended to the railways introduction of a rationalised variable fare structure to compete with airlines and boost earnings.
The Railway Convention Committee, in its latest report, has exhorted railways to make concerted efforts to put in place a system of rationalised variable fare structure to compete with the airlines pricing method and boost earnings.
The panel has, however, cautioned the railways that this fare structure should not be at the cost of the passengers and that the interest of the travellers must be protected.
The committee headed by BJP MP Bhartuhari Mahtab also expressed concern over the gradual decrease in the passenger share of railways.
The number of passengers in railways in 2012-13 was 8,421 millions, which has come down to 8,151.90 millions in 2015-16.
The committee said it was “perturbed” to note that the railways increased freight rates in order to offset the losses in passenger business, thereby making freight business less competitive than other modes of transport.
The Railway Board have attributed the reduction in the number of passengers to various factors, including capacity constraints on major trunk routes, improvement in road infrastructure offering better and faster connectivity, gradual shift of passenger traffic to growth of metro rail projects, cancellations of trains due to agitations and natural calamities.
The committee, however, said the improvement in road infrastructure offering better and faster connectivity and the comfort and convenience provided to passengers by Metro act as a stimulus for the railways to leverage its performance.
It said periodic evaluation of various alternatives relating to rationalisation of passenger fares was imperative.
It said the railways should look into the feasibility of gradually going in for a system of marginal increase in passenger fares based on feedback from various stakeholders, public opinion and after comprehensive reevaluation of social commitments so that the cross-subsidy portion is reduced and the additional revenue, thus generated, is gainfully utilised for passenger amenities.