Thither was a news the other day that premium trains introduced between Mumbai and Goa running empty with utilization of just 20% as compared to approximately 80-100% in normal trains. http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-dna-special-railways-gamble-fails-mumbai-goa-trains-running-on-empty-2016029
What this speaks out?
- As per the Railway official statement mentioned in the news, it is stated that maximum traffic during the period is of middle and lower middle class who preferred to pay Rs. 400/- for overnight sleeping car as compared to Rs. 1000/- on premium trains. Secondly, the premium trains have limited stoppage and Traffic during Ganapati Festival is not tourist traffic to Goa but smaller towns.
- This is a case of failure of the traffic assessment in right perspective and marketing strategy.
- Indian Railways is having the traffic assessment only of the passengers travelling over its network but not on other modes of transport.
- Indian Railways assess the traffic demand based on the waiting list which does not give a true picture. Even during the lean season, one gets waiting list ticket with almost 100% surety of getting it confirmed.
- The Special trains named as Premium, Festival, Summer special trains does not command respect in the opinion poll of the passenger. He will give it a last choice. He is not sure of its running, right time running and reaching destination comfortably. He doubts its integrity and tries to avoid travel by such trains. He considers it a second class travel. A passenger feels proud in announcing the train he has traveled.
- Special trains are without full complements of staff and amenities.
What is the solution then?
- Railways shall analyze the actual seat utilization of special trains. Seat utilization shall be worked out as the Passenger Seat Kilometres (PSK) divided by the Train Seat Kilometres (TSK). For example, if a train is having a reserved seating capacity of 1000 passengers and undertakes a journey of 1000 Km, then its Train Seat Kilometres (TSK) is 10,00,000. What part of this TSK is converted into Passenger Seat Kilometres (PSK)? This pattern, if worked out, will be an eye opener. It may be around 80% for regular trains and less than 50% for special trains.
- The special trains shall be marketed with fringe benefits associated like free service of newspaper, magazine, Water bottle, Meal service through mobile, punctuality and discounted ticket etc. The booking of special trains shall start two months in advance and just 15 days even less for that of a regular train.
- It will ensure better utilization of special trains leaving regular trains for last minute passengers and 50% (or what can be reasonable) for tatkal booking
- Once the Chart is prepared, further booking at originating or intermediate station is left to the TTE. There is virtually no transparency. How the reservation or journey without ticket and seat is managed can well be understood if Railway officials talk with frequent travelers on a route? Vacant seats are rarely given to RAC passenger and generally sold for Without Ticket travel.
- The railway has already decided to provide Hand Held Ticket checking equipment with TTE as per the project list of CRIS. With the availability of this and encouraging on line check-in by a passenger, the list of vacant seats will be known just within one hour of the start of the journey. http://indianrlys.wordpress.com/tag/hand-held-terminal/
- This will help in keeping the on-line reservation counter of the train “open” up to the destination and closing only for that station from where the train departs. With this, the passenger shall be able to book the ticket on arrival at the station through mobile/internet even for the last leg of 50-100 Km of the train journey. This will improve PSK, benefit passenger, transparency and more to the delight of the passenger.
- Mobile number of the passenger is generally taken while booking ticket. The passenger can be advised to confirm his journey through the same registered mobile. This will reduce the workload of the TTE and his checking in first go is limited to the passenger who have not checked in. Therefore, the not-turned up list is finalized within a very short time.
- Most importantly, travel of three passengers on a seat fetches 20-30% more revenue as compared to only one passenger due to the telescopic fare structure. If this advantage is shared with the passenger as well, it may be possible to market these seats attractively. Recently I traveled by Shatabadi Express from Lucknow to New Delhi and train was 30% empty up to Kanpur. The second class AC Chair car fare from Lucknow to Kanpur is about Rs. 300/- whereas difference of fare from Lucknow to New Delhi and Kanpur to New Delhi is just Rs. 100/- Indian Railways may conveniently be able to market this seating capacity at a reduced or train wise fixed fare structure say Rs. 200/- by Shatabadi from Lucknow to Kanpur.
The idea is for consideration of Railways for a win-win situation to earn more revenue and delight of passenger.
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