In a bid to replace loss making AC II-tier coaches in premium trains like Rajdhanis and Durontos with AC-III tier, the Railway Board has given instructions to manufacture more such coaches.
This will be initially applicable to those trains where the number of AC-II passengers is low, and at least 250 such coaches across the country may be replaced.
“We have decided to get more AC-III tier coaches because they generate more revenue for us,” Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said, without giving a deadline for replacement of the coaches.
If such a replacement is done, for example, in the 50 Rajdhani trains, officials said, it will create around 14,400 additional berths for AC-III passengers.
They said that railways was suffering huge losses on AC-II, while AC-III is always on demand. Hence, the change.
In fact, AC III coaches are the money spinners for railways in AC segment as they carry around 85 million passengers annually, compared to around 55 million in all other AC segments together – AC-I, AC II and AC chair car.
This is coming at a time when the national transporter is mulling a change in its flex-fare scheme to make it more consumer friendly. In fact, after a CAG report criticised the scheme and lashed out at the railways for charging its AC-II passengers on par with airlines in certain sectors, the move seeks to generate additional revenues.
Sources said that the board is mulling revising the scheme as per a formula used in the Humsafar trains in which the first 50 per cent berths of these trains will be sold at 15 per cent higher price than the base price and the slab will change with every 10 per cent of the berth sold thereafter.
Similarly, the government is also mulling options to bring in special discounts under the scheme in not so busy routes.
As of now, under flexi-fare scheme the base fares of premium trains increase by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold subject to a prescribed ceiling limit. There is no change in the existing fare for 1AC and EC class of travel.
Under the scheme, the national transporter had posted a 0.82 per cent increase in the number of passengers during the last financial year and got additional revenue of around Rs. 8.6 billion.