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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Indian Railways introduces 'dynamically priced' train : 22913 / 14 Mumbai - Delhi

‘old order changeth .. yielding place to new’ the immortal words of Le Morte d’arthur.

Life has changed a lot… if there is one Organisation (a State run one at that) ….. [run is apt description]….. which has kept abreast with technological changes and continues changing dynamically – the prize for sure would go to Indian Railways…. Which keeps introducing innovative ideas and solutions…for those of you who are cynical, go back to 1980s where booking a train ticket required special skills and hours of leisure……… + the art of standing in serpentine queues only to be told when nearer that ‘tickets have all been booked’…the Moore market reservation complex at Madras ushered in a revolution – whence one can stand in any queue and book for any train – not necessarily emanating or destined for Chennai – the computerized reservation was indeed a great step forward…….. then came e-ticket and now we are habitually travelling without caring to carry the printed ticket !!!

Time-based pricing is a pricing strategy where the provider of a service or supplier of a commodity, may vary the price depending on the time-of-day when the service is provided or the commodity is delivered. The rational background of time-based pricing is expected or observed change of the supply and demand balance during time.  Airlines ticketing is an easy example and now days you wonder how much your neighbour would have paid for the same travel !!

Elders of Chennai would recall the ‘Moore market’ which was originally built housing the hawkers of Broadway… read that its foundation stone was laid by Sir George Moore, president of the Madras Corporation in 1898.  In May 1985, a fire destroyed the market building – and in its place rised the Chennai Suburban Railway terminus and reservation centre catering to thousands of passengers.

There are many trains between the capital Delhi to Commercial capital Mumbai………… there are Rajdhanis too… still 22913/22914 is different………… and here is an attempt to book a ticket by that train. It is special not because it is a Rajdhani, not because it does not stop elsewhere, not because its advance period is shorter and is just 15 days; not because it has no Tatkal facility……………. But because the price of this premium train is dynamic……….. confusing !!

With a view to meeting the peak demand for travel on the eve of Christmas/New Year, Indian Railways has proposed to operate a few trips of premium Air-conditioned special trains on the busy New Delhi-Mumbai sector between 24th December 2013 to 2nd Jan 2014. The fare for this train is dynamic and would increase depending on the demand intensity.

It reportedly started at a price band of Rs.2,175 for 3AC and Rs.2,910 for 2AC on Saturday, the prices by Monday evening had risen to Rs2,197 for 3AC and Rs3,357 for 2AC.  This attempt to book a ticket on 30.12.13 showed a price of Rs.1815/- only.  In the dynamic pricing system — which is used widely by airlines — the price of thousands of tickets are determined by computer servers and may go up or down in the days before the journey, according to demand.

According to officials, by Monday morning, 48 seats were available in the train’s 2AC section and 421 for its 3AC section for the train’s December 26 Mumbai-Delhi journey. For its Mumbai-Delhi journey on December 29, the seat availability was 154 for 2AC and 549 for 3AC. Prices could shoot up further as the demand for the train increases. “It remains to be seen how high the ticket prices will go. But we believe this is the future of ticketing and we wouldn’t be surprised if the railways add more such trains in future,” said an official.

According to a statement released by the railway ministry, the booking shall be available only through the Internet (IRCTC portal) and not through counters at reservation centres. Passengers are required to carry the prescribed original photo identity card which is used at the time of booking. Most importantly, the fares applicable for each day or transaction would be indicated at the time of booking on the IRCTC e-ticketing website.

There will be no waitlist and there will be no refund too unless the train itself is cancelled. Everyone will be charged the adult fare.  The train has no commercial stops enroute; has only AC 3 tier and 2 tier ~ No Tatkal/ Ladies/Other Quota tickets in this train and no concession is applicable. The menu and tariff of the catering services will be similar to other Rajdhani Trains.

Welcome to yet another new innovation from Indian Railways

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Dec 2013.

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