The Railway Board last week announced that fares of AC chair cars and executive classes of all trains with less than 50 per cent occupancy had been reduced by up to 25 per cent. This includes the fares of Vande Bharat trains as well.
The trains will also include those with Anubhuti and Vistadome coaches.
"The element of discount shall be up to a maximum of 25 per cent on the basic fare. Other charges like reservation charges, super fast surcharge, goods and services tax (GST), etc, as applicable, shall be levied separately. The discount may be provided in any or all the classes on the basis of occupancy," the Board said.
Why have rail fares been reduced?
In its order, the Railway Board said that the rail ministry has decided to delegate powers to principal chief commercial managers of railway zones to introduce discounted fare schemes in trains with AC seating.
This was done to optimise the utilisation of accommodation.
The board undertook the review of fares earlier this month, according to news agency PTI. A report quoted a senior official as saying that for Vande Bharat trains, the idea is to "ensure that all the Vande Bharat trains work towards ensuring passenger convenience".
"We have reviewed the situation and we believe that some of the Vande Bharat trains, especially of shorter durations between two to around five hours will do much better if their prices are decreased. We want more and more people to use these trains. While most of the Vande Bharat trains are running at 100 per cent occupancy, a handful are not and we are making the changes needed to ensure they do," the official said.
How will the discount be given?
The order said that trains having "classes with occupancy less than 50 per cent (either end-to-end or in some specified legs/sections depending upon the sections where the discount is to be provided) during the last 30 days shall be taken into consideration".
The discount can be given for the first and/or last leg of the journey and/or intermediate sections and/or end-to-end journey, provided the occupancy is less than 50 per cent in that leg/section/end-to-end.
"The discount shall be implemented with immediate effect. However, no refund of fare shall be admissible for already booked passengers," the order said.
In the case of trains where flexi fare is applicable in a particular class, and the occupancy is poor, the scheme can be withdrawn initially as a measure to increase the occupancy.
This scheme will not be applicable on special trains introduced as holiday or festival specials.
Which trains will see a fare cut?
According to PTI, the Bhopal-Indore Vande Bharat service recorded just 29 per cent occupancy, whereas the return journey of Indore-Bhopal Vande Bharat Express had only 21 per cent occupancy. These are expected to see a rate cut.
Similarly, the Nagpur-Bilaspur Vande Bharat Express has an average occupancy of around 55 per cent and the Bhopal-Jabalpur Vande Bharat Express which has clocked 32 per cent occupancy, while the return journey on Jabalpur-Bhopal Vande Bharat service has shown 36 per cent occupancy is also likely to see a fare reduction.
The Bhopal-Jabalpur Vande Bharat Express, which has clocked 32 per cent occupancy, while the return journey on the Jabalpur-Bhopal Vande Bharat service has shown 36 per cent occupancy is also likely to see a fare reduction.
Which Vande Bharat trains have the highest occupancy?
The Vande Bharat trains with top occupancy include the Kasaragod to Trivandrum train is the best-performing Vande Bharat Express (183 per cent), Trivandrum to Kasaragod Vande Bharat train (176 per cent), the Gandhinagar-Mumbai Central Vande Bharat Express (134 per cent), Mumbai Central-Gandhinagar Vande Bharat Express (129 per cent), Varanasi-New Delhi Vande Bharat Express (128 per cent), New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express (124 per cent), Dehradun-Amritsar Vande Bharat Express (105 per cent), Mumbai-Sholapur Vande Bharat Express (111 per cent), and Sholapur-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express (104 per cent).
These trains are unlikely to see a reduction in fares.