A survey carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has revealed that the increased fare in premier trains has to be matched with enhanced punctuality, cleaner toilets and coaches and better quality of food and bedrolls hat are given to travelers in trains.,
When they were asked whether there has been any improvement seen in the Indian Railways in relation to enhancement of quality of services that are commensurate with the increased fares, the survey found that most of the passengers travelling in premier trains provided negative answers.
In September of 2016, the premier Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains were brought under a flexi-fare scheme by the railways to enhance revenues in the passenger segment.
During April-May 2017, 806 passengers travelling in 16 Shatabdi trains and 11 Rajdhani trains were given a questionnaire as a part of the survey conducted by the CAG aimed to find out passenger opinion of the premier trains,
There is an increase of base fare by 10 percent for every 10 per cent sale of available seats under the flexi-fare system. The maximum increase is capped at 140 per cent for AC-3 and 150 per cent for all classes, except AC first and Executive Class.
While punctuality is the major problems of these premier trains, the survey found that despite the increased amount of fare for such trains passengers have complaints about the conformity of the services with the with the high fares. According to the CAG, after the imposition of the flexi-fare scheme, there has been a trend of decreasing occupancy in the trains.
Better quality of services are demanded by the passengers to match the enhanced tariffs in the premier trains, the survey showed.
495 passengers replied in the negative when they were questions whether Indian Railways have provided any improvement in the services offered after with fare hike.
While 324 passengers raised questions about the food served in the trains, 280 passengers identified cleanliness of toilets as a large problem.
445 of the respondents answered in the negative compared to 361 answering in the affirmative when asked “Do you feel that you derive value for the money and time you have spent by travelling in a premium train with flexi fare”.
The deb rolls provided in the train were noted to a problem in the premier by 97 respondents who regularly travel in the AC-2 and AC-3 classes.
Cleaning of windows and curtains, , mobile/laptop charging points, more options/variety in food served, behaviour of pantry car staff, cleanliness at stations and waiting areas and prevention of unauthorised vendors, were identified as other issues by the respondents.
The CAG report also noted that that while the Indian railways generated profits of Rs 552 crore from passengers in premier trains following the imposition of the flexi-fare system (between September 9, 2016, and July 31, 2017), there had been a decrease of 2.65 per cent in the number of passengers in the premier trains in spite of there being seats and berths available which indicate under-utilization of national assets.
The CAG has recommended a review and fine-tuning in the scope of the scheme so that not only more revenue is earned but the number of passengers also increases.
(Adapted from HindustanTimes.com)