Last minute Railway ticket booking may cost more to your pocket if demand for berth is high. A panel formed by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has suggested introduction of dynamic fare system for all mail and express trains, change in schedule of certain trains and their proper maintenance among other suggestions for optimisation of traffic.
Prabhu had formed an eight-member committee, consisting of senior railway officials and headed by the Additional Member Mohd Jamshed, in February to examine factors affecting growth of passenger and freight traffic, and suggest a plan of action for traffic optimisation.
The committee in its report, submitted to Prabhu on Friday, has suggested various measures including capacity augmentation, system improvements requiring changes in rolling stock and infrastructure maintenance among others to achieve substantial traffic growth.
“Full load running of trains, induction of DMUs and MEMUs, dynamic pricing for all Mail/Express trains and changes in scheduling of trains and their maintenance are some of the areas requiring attention,” report said, adding railways growth has not been able to keep pace with the growth in GDP.
Currently, the dynamic fare system, which is being practised in airlines, is operational in limited number of special trains. Under this system, fare goes up if the demand is high for berths.
Accepting the report, Prabhu said “We did not appoint any consultants or outsiders for the committee and all railways men are part of the committee. We have to implement the reports as we have to make the Railways the engine of economic growth.”
The committee has also suggested using satellite for Indian Railways’ operation and safety needs.
According to report, there has also been reduction in number of passengers being carried by railways, except in reservation segment during last five years.
The committee has also looked at the growth of passenger traffic of Railways. “There has been decline in number of passengers in both sub-urban and non-sub-urban short route traffic. These are identified areas which require rationalisation of fares,” it suggested.
It has found that the long distance reserved category traffic has shown robust growth, which has to be doubled during the next three years.
The Committee has also reviewed growth for various core sectors requiring high demand for transportation of selected commodities including coal, iron-ore, steel, fertilisers, food grains, petroleum products and cement.
It has observed that growth of freight loading on railways has remained at a level of 4 per cent during the last five years.
The committee on traffic optimisation examined all factors impacting the growth of Indian railways including development of infrastructure, augmentation of capacity and saturation levels of all high density routes.
After which, it suggested that capacity of terminals needs to be augmented, utilisation of alternate routes had to be rationalised, wagon capacity scheme requires liberalisation, private freight terminals have to come up and rating structure have to be revised to provide more incentives in empty flow direction.
The committee made the assessment to meet demand for transportation of coal, iron-ore and containers. Demands in other sectors will also be robust providing huge volumes of freight traffic for the railways to move.
The potential estimated by the committee looks at growth of 9 to 15 per cent during the next four years.
“The Great Leap Forward would be achieved only with completion of Dedicated Freight Corridor,” the report stated.
The committee has also suggested specific plans of action for Zonal Railways, which have been provided not only the potential targets but also various actions to be taken during 2015-16.
It has also identified specific bottlenecks requiring urgent attention including completion of last mile projects, specifically those connected to doubling of traffic facility, signalling and electrification works.
Moreover, examination and analysation of the pattern of transportation growth, both passenger and freight, on Indian Railways in the last four decades, and specifically during the last five years, has been un undertaken.
Various constraints that have been impacting the desired growth of freight and passenger traffic have been reviewed at length and various bottlenecks identified.