India’s Rail Ministry is slashing air-conditioned chair cars and executives class fares of trains with low occupancy by 25 per cent.It will also cover the newly-launched Vande Bharat trains.

The discount scheme comes into effect, “immediately” on all trains “having AC sitting accommodation including Anubhuti and Vistadome coaches”. But there will be no refunds for already booked passengers.

The element of discount, a notification issued on Saturday said, “shall be up to maximum (of) 25 per cent on the basic fare.”

“The discount shall be implemented with immediate effect. However, no refund of fare shall be admissible for already booked passengers,” it mentions.

The move allows the Railways to optimise utilisation of accommodation in trains, while it will at the same time delegate powers to Zonal Railways to introduce this discounted fare scheme.

While the upper limit of the discount scheme has been capped, other charges like reservation charge, super fast surcharge, GST, and so on, as applicable, shall be levied separately.

The scheme is currently applicable for one year; but reviews shall be made regularly. And based on the occupancy, the discount may be modified, extended or withdrawn, the notification said.

Discount scheme details

In its notification, the Railways mentioned trains having classes with occupancy less than 50 per cent (either end to end or in some specified sections, depending upon the sections where discount is to be provided) during the last 30 days shall be taken into consideration.

The fares of competitive mode of transport shall be the criteria while deciding quantum of discount.

The discount can be given for the first-leg of journey, last leg of journey, intermediate sections or even in end-to-end journeys, if occupancies continue to be lower than the threshold.

The discount shall be “initially implemented for a period as decided by the Principal Chief Commercial Managers of the various zones (depending on the starting point of the train journey); but, the condition is “subject to a maximum of six months for the journey dates from when it is implemented”.

Discounted fare may be given for the entire duration or part duration or month wise or seasonal or for week days/ weekends based on demand pattern of the period, it added.

For trains with inter-zonal pairs/destinations, discount in fare may be given in consultation with the Principal Chief Commercial Managers of other Zonal Railways or Managing Director.

Modification of discount or withdrawal of the scheme will also come into immediate effect. “However, no difference of fare shall be charged or collected from already booked passengers,” it said.

Other conditions

Trains where flexi-fare scheme is applicable in a particular class and the occupancy is poor, flexi fare scheme may be withdrawn initially as a measure to increase the occupancy.

“In case this does not result in improved occupancy, only then can the (current) discount scheme be made applicable there,” the notification said.

Special category tickets shall be booked on original class wise fare and not on discounted fare. Tatkal quota shall not be earmarked in such trains for the decided period in case the discount is provided on end-to-end basis.

“The discount shall be for tickets booked upto preparation of 1st chart and during current booking. The discount may also be permitted onboard by the TTE. This scheme shall not be applicable on special trains introduced as holiday/festival specials, etc,” it adds.