New Delhi: In order to provide some relief to passengers, the Indian Railways is all set to reduce Flexi-fares for certain premium trains. As per media reports, the ministry is first testing the reduction in flexi-fare in 40 trains.

The ministry is planning to bring this discount on less busy routes. It is to be noted here that earlier it has ruled out the idea of rolling back the flexi-fare scheme on reserved tickets of its premium trains. The flexi-fare scheme in the premium trains is going to stay, a senior Railway Ministry official had told IANS requesting anonymity.

He said that the flexi-fare scheme is available only for 168 trains out of 12,500 trains _ mail or express. Hence, it makes only 1.5 per cent of the total trains, the official had said.

But later the ministry decided to suspend the scheme temporarily as an experiment during lean months in some identified trains as they are seeing occupancy as low as 30 per cent.

On September 9, 2016, railways had introduced flexi-fare for premier trains like Rajdhani, Duronto, and Shatabdi. Under this, the base fare increases by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold, subject to a prescribed limit. There was no change in the existing fare for first AC and EC classes. But on December 19, 2016, the railways started to provide 10 per cent rebate on any seat left vacant after preparation of the chart. Then on July 20 this year, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report, which was tabled in Parliament, highlighted that tickets on the Indian Railways’ premium trains were much higher as compared to airfares.

Recently, a CAG report had come down heavily on the railways for the flexi-fare prices and it stated a comparison with airfare for 13 sectors showed that travelling in the aeroplane was cheaper than in train for a large number of routes.

In terms of absolute numbers, the premium trains carried 2.40 crore passengers during the post-flexi period (September 9, 2016, to July 31, 2017) as compared to 2.47 crore passengers during the pre-flexi period (September 9, 2015, to July 31, 2016), said the CAG in its report.