Amid rising airfares, train travel saw an uptick in the past two fiscals of approximately 20-30 per cent on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis. Train travel within tier-2 routes has also seen an uptick of 15-20 per cent.
Industry data suggested that train travel was soaring on an overall basis.
Data from yatra.com suggested that on a y-o-y basis, its platform witnessed an uptick of 20-30 per cent in train bookings. Popular metro routes were Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, and Mumbai-Bengaluru, it said. Yatra.com said that it had witnessed an uptick of 10-15 per cent in tier-2 routes.
Another online travel agency EaseMyTrip recorded an uptick of 22 per cent in train bookings in FY22, compared to the previous fiscal.
Likewise, online travel portal Ixigo’s analysis suggested that booking for non-metro to metro and non-metro to non-metro train routes were seeing the highest traction when compared to March 2022 to March 2023.
Routes like Surat-Mumbai, Surat-Ahmedabad, Trichy-Chennai, Vijayawada-Visakhapatnam, and Chennai-Bengaluru witnessed a surge.
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The top routes that witnessed an uptick were Ahmedabad-Surat at 15 per cent, Chennai-Bengaluru at 11 per cent, New Delhi-Chandigarh at 23 per cent, and Chandigarh-New Delhi at 21 per cent.
This route was often frequented by flights. However, the airfares on this route had skyrocketed within the last year and a half.
Southern Railway speeds up trains on major routesChennai–Coimbatore Vande Bharat Express will ply at 130 kmph in the Chennai–Jolarpettai section
Routes to Mumbai too witnessed a decent uptick with Mumbai-Surat witnessing an 11 per cent hike, and Ahmedabad-Borivali witnessing a 12 per cent surge.
Dinesh Komar Kotha, CEO & Co-founder, ConfirmTkt noted that train travel demand rose as there has been an “active development of railway infrastructure, the faster roll-out of Vande Bharat train sets, better connectivity and new rail lines”.
According to industry experts, a chunk of all the routes mentioned above are shorter to medium-duration routes frequented by business travelers. Given that there was a sizable uptick in airfares, these routes witnessed a surge, and at almost half the tariff, travellers could choose to travel on two-tier AC or a first-class AC train.
“Travelers from tier-2 and -3 cities are also preferring to travel in premium classes of trains with the introduction of semi-high speed Vande Bharat trains where the duration of the journey is less than six hours and you have the added convenience of not wasting time waiting at an airport,” Kotha pointed out.
Indian Railways’ performance
Besides this, Indian railways has actively started taking feedback from rail passengers. They are on social media platforms including Twitter and respond to feedback shared online. Redevelopment and makeovers of major railway stations across the country have also enhanced the overall train traveler experience.
The Indian rail travel market has also significantly evolved with digitisation. There was an average daily inventory of 14 lakh tickets available on the IRCTC.
As against a daily volume of booking at 8.25 lakh tickets on the IRCTC website and app in FY2020, daily average bookings in FY2021 and FY2022 were 4.80 lakhs and 11.44 lakhs respectively, according to the IRCTC Annual Reports data.
Within four years, online ticketing took over as the major mode of booking. In fiscal 2022, 80 per cent of Indian Railways tickets were booked online, with the remaining still being booked offline on the passenger reservation system (PRS) ticket counters, its data stated.
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