Railway ticket discount to be restricted to basic fare

The railway ministry has decided to restrict the discount on rail tickets to beneficiaries to the basic fare.
From April 1, the concession will be given only on base fare component of the ticket, and it will not be provided on catering, reservation and supplementary charges.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Neeraj Sharma, chief public relations officer, Northern Railways, said the concessions applicable in Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi and Duronto trains would not be granted on catering, reservation and supplementary charges, including superfast surcharge, enhanced reservation charges, and taxes for the these trains.

He said, “The catering charges for these trains were inbuilt as part of the ticket fare. As such, the taxes levied thereon need to be incorporated based on sector-wise calculations. The service tax changes year after year, so the tax element will be separated from the apportionment of catering charges and sector-wise service tax will be calculated separately.”

He said while all other prevailing taxes — VAT, general service tax and new taxes — would be imposed under the governing law, the tax on catering services rendered in these trains where catering charges are included in the ticket fare, would be collected by railways from the passengers separately.

A railway reservation ticket includes basic fare, reservation charge, safety charge, service tax, additional superfast charge and catering charge.

Currently, beneficiaries get concession on catering, safety and other supplementary charges on such trains. But from April they would get concession only on basic fare while the charges would be taken separately on various services offered on the reserved tickets.

“The beneficiaries will now have to pay an additional amount of Rs. 80 to Rs. 100 on their tickets,” Sharma said.

The concession in fare is availed by senior citizens, disabled, patients, medical professionals, war widows, students, artists, sportspersons and national awardees, which varies for each of these categories.


15 more Duronto trains likely

The railway ministry is planning to launch 15 more Duronto Expresses in the coming budget, as the end-to-end non-stop train has caught the fancy of passengers.

The ministry has made a list of 40 routes in 28 high-density sectors. Of these, depending on availability of rakes, 15 Durontos are expected to be announced on various routes, including Mumbai-Chennai, Bhubaneswar-Varanasi, Patna-Yesvantpur, Lucknow-Guwahati, Guwahati-Chennai, Amritsar-Darbhanga and Howrah-Chennai.

The railways, which undertook a demand study on some of these routes, say the number of seats is much less than the demand, and it will be profitable to run Durontos on these routes. For instance, on the Howrah-Chennai route, the demand is 48 per cent more than the capacity, while on the Delhi-Guwahati route, the gap is as high as 60 per cent.

The railways have introduced nine Durontos to date out of the 14 declared in last year’s budget that was presented in July — Howrah-Yesvantpur, Sealdah-New Delhi, Chennai-Nizamuddin, Howrah-Mumbai, Pune-Nizamuddin, Nagpur-Mumbai, Ahmedabad-Mumbai, New Delhi-Lucknow and New Delhi-Allahabad.

“Durontos are reporting good occupancy rates. The trains provide faster travel at affordable prices. Services on board have also been appreciated,” said a senior official at the ministry.

According to the railway ministry, the average occupancy rate in seven Duronto trains varies in the range of 72-106 per cent (data for two newly-launched Durontos are not available). While the Sealdah-New Delhi Duronto has had an occupancy rate (the percentage of seats booked) of 100 per cent since its launch in September last year, Nagpur-Mumbai and Howrah-Yeshvantpur Durontos have occupancy rates of around 105 per cent (the number is higher than the total number of seats available because of the reservation against cancellation scheme that allows two people to share a berth).

“Rajdhanis run between the national capital and important cities. Durontos provide services between any pair of important cities. The fare is lower and the time taken for the journey is lesser, which has resulted in the service gaining popularity,” said the official.

The Sealdah-New Delhi Duronto Express, for instance, takes one-and-a-half hour less than Rajdhani. This is because it has no commercial stoppages and halts only at Dhanbad, Kanpur and Mughalsarai for operational purposes.

However, this does not mean that Rajdhani has lost its importance. Unlike Duronto, Rajdhani is a daily train and has more stoppages, and therefore, more cities to get passengers. The average occupancy rate ranges between 83 per cent and 131 per cent.

More importantly, Durontos are making money on some routes. On some routes, the ministry is making more money than estimated. For instance, the ministry is earning 4 per cent more than what it had estimated on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route and 3 per cent more on the Nagpur-Mumbai route. On most routes, the railways have reached an average of 90-95 per cent of its earning targets.


Colourful coaches for Duronto Trains

CHENNAI: For the first time in the history of Southern Railway, a multihued train ran on its tracks.

Duronto is an experiment with colours. Painted predominately in green with splashes of red and blue, it looks bright and colourful.

The high quality vinyl wrap was designed by Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee herself.

Duronto is not merely a beauty on the tracks. Its coach body is made of stainless steel. This reduces tare weight by 1.5 tonne, enabling the train to run at higher speeds up to 130 km per hour.

It is longer than conventional coaches and can accommodate 72 berths in AC 3-tier. The capacity of conventional coaches is just 64 berths. In the Duronto sleeper coaches, 78 berths are available, as compared to 72 in conventional sleeper coaches.

All coaches boast of auto closing vestibule doors. These doors automatically close in the event of fire and prevent it from spreading to the adjacent coaches. All cabins are provided with emergency lamps and cellphone chargers.

Giving some relief to the hygiene conscious people, a Controlled Discharge Toilet System (CDTS) has been introduced in the train. CDTS discharges human waste only when the train reaches a speed of 30 km per hour, thus keeping railway stations clean. The toilets too have autoclosing doors.

The AC coaches are provided with wide window glasses with increased height for a better view.

Passenger friendly amenities like bottle holders, magazine bags, snack tables and mirrors have been provide in the non-AC coaches as well.

Air springs in bogies instead of oil springs provide better riding comfort. The train also has superior thermal and sound insulation features. The entire train has a public address system.


Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment