To give airlines a run for their money, the Indian Railways plans to lure more passengers by revoking the Flexi-fare scheme in some trains and offering discounts to others.
The move comes at the start of the festive season when the airlines are full due to discount schemes.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal described the move as a "gift to passengers" during the festive season.
"As a gift to passengers this festive season, railways has decided to reduce flexi-fares from 1.5 to 1.4 times the base ticket fare, and to completely remove flexi-fares from trains with less than 50 per cent occupancy," Goyal said in a series of tweets.
"Win-Win Situation: The reduction of Flexi Fares is going to benefit both the passengers who can now avail of tickets at cheaper rates. The railways will see a surge in demand and occupancy," the minister said.
It also reduced flexi fares from 1.5 to 1.4 times the base ticket fare in 101 trains, the Railway Minister said.
The railways plans to give graded discounts in fares for all classes of current Flexi-Fare trains, four days prior to the scheduled date of the train starting from the originating station. Flexi-Fares increase the price of tickets as occupancy increases.
The railways would offer a discount of up to 20 per cent in the fares of premium trains with occupancy of 70 per cent, while a discount of up to 10 per cent will be given in the trains which have a booking rate of 70-80 per cent.
There will be no discount on fares of the premium trains with an occupancy rate of over 80 per cent.
According to a Railway Ministry senior official, the scheme has been discontinued in 15 trains, where the average uni-directional monthly occupancy was less than 50 per cent throughout the year.
The official said that the Flexi-Fare has been completely scrapped from 13 Shatabdi Express and two Duranto Express trains.
"The decision would increase occupancy by over 15 per cent due to lower fares," the official, who declined to be named, told IANS on Wednesday.
The official said that the decision was taken after an eight member committee which was formed to review the scheme to make it more passenger friendly submitted its recommendation to the railways.
He said that the review was also done based on the recommendation of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report and representations from passengers.
The official said that the railways had decided to discontinue the flexi-fare in a pre-defined lean period of three months in 32 trains with uni-directional monthly occupancy between 50-75 per cent throughout the last fiscal.
The trains included 18 Shatabdi Express, five Rajdhani Express and nine Duranto Express trains.
The decision assumes significance as it will enable the railways to lure more passengers that it had lost to other means of transport, especially the aviation sector.
In addition, the flexi-fare scheme will continue in over 100 trains in which uni-directional monthly occupancy is more than 75 per cent throughout the year.