The fares for short distance travels in Shatabdi trains are set to be reduced across the country following a successful experiment in two such trains wherein fares were reduced leading to a sharp increase in patronage. The Indian Railways observed that passenger movement between non-terminating and non-originating railway stations on the route of Shatabdi trains were low and the passengers were opting for air-conditioned bus services in these sections.
“Between Ajmer and Jaipur, and two stations between Chennai and Bengaluru, we saw that AC buses were charging around Rs 430 and Shatabdi fare was around Rs 470. As a consequence, the patronage on these short-lead travels was around 30%. So we decided to reduce the rates to Rs 350 and now the patronage has reached almost 100%,” said Mohammed Jamshed, member (traffic), Railway Board, adding that the carrier now plans to introduce the system across all Shatabdi trains.
Shatabdi is a superfast express train category which connects major Indian cities, has AC chair cars, and completes a to-and-fro journey between two stations within the same day.
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Losing traffic to roads has been a prime concern of the Indian Railways. Its freight share has declined from 62% in 1981 to around 36% at present and that of the roads has increased. The railways is targeting a 45% freight share by 2024 and plans to build six dedicated freight corridors as well, of which two—eastern and western—corridors are at the advanced stage and are expected to be operational by 2020.
However, the national carrier saw a 1% increase in passenger in 2016-17 to 822.1 crore passengers from 815.1 crore transported during 2015-16, the first year of growth since 2012 thanks to slew of measures such as introduction on new categories of trains such as Humsafar and adding 43,420 berths in 2016-17 the existing trains during the last financial year and ran 31,438 trips of special trains.