Even before it could hatch, it was scotched. Within hours of announcing ‘surge pricing’ for Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto trains, the Railways back-tracked and went into damage control mode by terming it an “experimental” process as the move drew criticism from all sections of society.
However, railway officials did not clarify how long the experiment would last, but a Railways official said the dynamic pricing mechanism would be reviewed.
The move to introduce ‘flexi fares’, announced on Wednesday, had met with strong reactions both from users as well as Opposition parties.
All through Thursday, the Railways sought to defend its dynamic pricing model, pointing out that till now it has been heavily subsidising this segment of passengers.
A senior Railways official said the increase will be felt by less than 1 per cent of the passengers. The Railways, the official claimed, “has been recovering only 57 paise against the 100 paise requirement till now.” Besides, the Rajdhani, Shatabdi, and Duronto trains account for only 152 of the 12,000 passenger trains that run daily, the official claimed.
Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala termed the ‘surge pricing’ decision as a “rude shock” for ordinary people.
Surjewala pointed out that the system of surge pricing had first been introduced by app-based cab service providers such as Ola and Uber in the National Capital. “And what has been found to be illegal by the courts for Uber/Ola is being implemented by the Modi government for the Railways. There cannot be a bigger irony,” he said.
The Left parties feared that this was just a prelude to a plan to extend the ‘flexi pricing’ formula to other trains as well.
“This would, in turn, mean the imposition of a severe burden on the vast majority of our people, who are already suffering from high inflation, low wages, growing unemployment and other miseries,” the CPI(M) Polit Bureau said in a statement.