Payout for delay, other freebies being planned for passengers of India's first 'private train'
Those travelling by India’s first ‘private’ train would be given a slew of freebies, including a second meal.
State-run IRCTC, which has bagged the rights to run two Tejas trains, is finalising plans to start the first from Delhi to Lucknow from October. While seeking to ensure that the base fare compares with the Shatabdi running on the same route, the public sector player is looking to bundle in more facilities, including a second meal and putting up vending machines to serve free tea and coffee to wean away customers who have shifted from railways to airlines.
“While railways serves breakfast, people are hungry by the time they reach Lucknow at lunch time. So, we want to offer some snacks, which can sustain them till they finish their meeting and go for lunch,” explained an IRCTC executive.
Besides, with the add-on services, the company is hoping to target even senior citizens, who are entitled to a 40% discount on their on rail fares. The model is expected to be replicated on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route too where the other ‘private’ train is to run and this train may be rolled out in mid-November.
Free travel insurance of Rs 50 lakh may be thrown in with the Tejas tickets apart from a burglary cover for your home while you are on the train. “There are multiple offers from insurance companies. We are looking at them and the suggestions that are coming,” the PSU executive said.
On the flip side, each train coach will come with only two toilets instead of the four that travellers are used to. The idea is to free space for service and better management of food, for which a new type of pantry is being planned.
IRCTC officials suggested that there were too many toilets in train coaches. After all, airplanes came with three toilets for 190 passengers, while one coach typically has 72 seats, if operating at full capacity.
Although railways has allowed free pricing, the state-run railway ticketing outfit wants to keep fares in line with those offered on Shatabdi. At the same time, it will use the dynamic pricing model to cash in on the rush during festivals . During the lean season, tickets may be offered at a discount to the base price. While it is banking on advertising and product launches or nonfare revenue to make up for any shortfall, IRCTC expects to break even if it runs a 12-coach Tejas at 78% occupancy, said sources.
Railway ministry is largely banking on the outcome of the IRCTC experiment to open up more routes for running similar trains in the next few years.