More number of passengers have started using trains after the Railways rationalised its flexi-fare policy in November 2018, according to data shared by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Some 105.21 lakh passengers travelled by trains during March 15-June 30, 2019, up over eight lakh passengers (against 97.06 lakh) during the same time last year. The three-month duration between mid-March and June-end is the peak summer vacation period, which sees an upsurge in demand for travel. These eight lakh extra passengers generated almost ₹70 lakh extra revenue for the Railways.

This year the duration also coincided with flight cancellations arising from Jet Airways’ exit from the aviation market.

The Railway Minister also said that the pricier all-AC trains of Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express, and speedier Duranto trains trains have seen an increase in occupancy in last four years despite introduction of flexi-fare system. The occupancy — percentage of people travelling in a train — levels range from 81 per cent in the second half of fiscal 2017, 83 per cent (fiscal 2018), 86 per cent in (fiscal 2019) and 97 per cent in the first three months of fiscal 2020.

Flexi-fare is applicable to only 141 of 13,452 reserved trains, Goyal stated. As of March 2019, the flexi-fare scheme in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains has been rationalised in which it has been discontinued in 15 trains for full year and from 32 trains during pre-defined lean periods of February, March and August. A maximum cap of flexi fare scheme has been reduced to 1.4 times in all flexi-fare applicable classes.

Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had shared train-wise data which showed dynamic pricing was driving passengers away from trains.

For train segments that did not see high demand, the Railways also introduced discounted fare.