GUWAHATI, Oct 29 � The much-touted premium special trains with dynamic fare operated by the Indian Railways' has turned out to be a flop show in the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone with lukewarm response from passengers.
Sources said the NFR is currently operating four such trains from Kamakhya station here to various parts of the country with the purpose of clearing extra rush of passengers during the Durga Puja-Diwali holiday season which extends till end of November.
�However, while there is heavy rush for bookings and long waiting list in regular trains, passenger response to the premium specials with dynamic fare has been lukewarm,� said a source.
Currently, four trains of such variety are being run from Kamakhya to four different destinations � New Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Sealdah.
The unique feature of dynamic fare trains are that the price of tickets is not fixed and they fluctuate like air tickets based on availability and date of booking.
Besides, bookings have to be done by means of Internet bookings start only ten days prior to date of departure. Only confirmed tickets are provided, there is no concept of waiting list and there is also no provision for cancellation of tickets.�����
Asked about the lack of good response, an official said, "In Assam the use of Internet is still not widely prevalent and this is acting as a handicap. If booking for premium special trains is allowed via PRS counters, it will generate good response.�
Assam Rail Passengers Association (ARPA) has, meanwhile, demanded that such premium special dynamic fare trains should not be operated in the NFR zone.
�It is nothing but a way to commercialize the train service and collect revenue in a roundabout way. It is ethically wrong for a public service like NFR, especially in a poor and sensitive region like the North East,� ARPA general secretary Dipankar Sarma said.
He added that instead of operating dynamic fare trains, the Railways� should operate additional special trains with regular fare structure during times of extra rush.
�Indian Railways� has not been able to give Duronto service to the North East and are yet operating dynamic fare trains in the name of premium specials. This is a big joke. Besides, in a state like Assam with low Internet penetration how can they have good response to such services,� Sarma argued.
Indian Railways' has taken up the dynamic fare concept in a big way since this year as a means of boosting its revenue in the face of rising input cost and fall in revenues.