Air India Extends Rajdhani Plan to Add 7 More Cities

Air India is going to offer last minute ticket prices equivalent to 2AC fares of Rajdhani trains on seven additional routes including from Delhi to Raipur, Patna, and Ranchi.

Air India expanded its spot fare scheme, wherein unsold seats are offered at 2AC Rajdhani  rates four hours before a flight’s departure. These ticket prices are  as low as Rs 2,240.

AI chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani

Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani has said that Air Indiarier has an average load factor of 74 per cent across its domestic network while the seat occupancy on the trunk routes stands at around 80 per cent.  The move to offer  such tickets was aimed at providing relief to the passengers from last minute sky-rocketing fares and also to fill the vacant seats.

Air India’s move might pose competitive challenges for other private airlines, which generally charge very costly fares for last minute bookings.

“On account of popular response and with an aim to enhance growth, national carrier Air India has decided to add seven more centers under its ‘Spot Fares’ scheme,” Air India said in a statement.

“These fares would be available for sale within four hours of the scheduled departure of the flights. These fares are available for sale through city and airport booking offices, call centre and Air India website.  The scheme is available for more than 100 flights across the country,” the statement said.

Tickets are also available on NC AIRWAYS.

“By introducing these fares we are not only able to generate additional revenue but also able to fill each and every seat till the last minute,” the statement added.

The scheme was launched on select domestic sectors from June 27 to September 30. Air India is already offering these fares on four routes and with the new additions, the total number of such sectors would increase to 11. The scheme is intended to offer fares equivalent to that of a 2AC of the Rajdhani Express.

The routes and their fares are –

Routes Fares (Rs)
Delhi-Ranchi-Delhi 2770
Delhi-Ahmedabad-Delhi 2270
Delhi-Hyderabad-Delhi 3275
Delhi-Bhubaneshwar-Delhi 3475
Delhi-Goa-Delhi 3665
Delhi-Patna-Delhi 2315
Delhi-Raipur-Delhi 2240

It is already available on four trunk routes – Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi, Delhi-Kolkata-Delhi, Delhi-Bengaluru-Delhi and Delhi-Chennai-Delhi.

As per Ashwani Lohani, the rationale behind the move was to provide “flying at low, affordable costs to last-minute passengers”.

 

Will the Bullet Train Enterprise become an Engine of Economic Transformation in India?

In December 2015, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet cleared a $14.7bn bullet train system linking the western Indian cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Japan is promoting the Shinkansen bullet train system in India as the latter intends to launch high-speed railway system in furtherance of economic
Japan is promoting the Shinkansen bullet train system in India as it intends to launch high-speed railway system.

As a matter of fact, the Indian Railways symbolises the decaying nature of Indian Railways’ infrastructure. The basic issue is that the IR hardly earns enough to pay for itself, is cash strapped mainly due to the recurring losses in the passenger segment of its operations. IR get every year huge aids in the form of government funding and stays afloat.

Its top managers have frequently warned of the crisis. As per IR top officials: “In the final analysis, the performance of the organisation would be just at the bottom-line and unless we are in a position to control the expenditure and increase the earnings on a sustained basis, survival for the organisation becomes a very difficult proposition”.

The challenge has been clear for many years. In 2012, a high-level government committee had identified that the condition of the tracks and bridges as a cause of major concern. Weak tracks slow down the trains’ and freight movement. The committee made several recommendations like modernising of the 19,000 km of existing tracks that comprise nearly 40% of the total network and carrying about 80% of the traffic._87211824_87211447

The committee had also strongly advocated the strengthening of the 11,250 bridges to sustain higher loads at higher speeds, as nearly 25% of 131,000 bridges are more than 100 years old.

Rs. 80,00,000 million had even been finalized as an outlay for this.

But the railways did not spend even a small part of this.

Against this backdrop, top Railways analysts of India are of the opinion that the same Bullet Train investment should be used on upgrading the entire railway infrastructure. It would have been much more economically helpful than the Bullet Train project.

Shouldn’t the dedication be on modernising and upgrading the entire system as a top priority?

indian railways SCR_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_1_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0Population growth in India is such that more than a million young people is added to its work force every month. But, due to one reason or the other, important decisions on the filling of 1000s of vacancies, including those of safety related, track maintenance and signalling works, keep getting delayed. While millions of the country’s citizens continuously seek jobs; 1000s of crucial posts in the Railways have remained vacant for several years. It defies logic !

There is little doubt that giving a face-lift to the entire network and work culture would lead to creation of many more new jobs than such a single capital intensive project.

How does this augur with Prime Minister Modi’s statement on the Bullet train system –

“This enterprise will launch a revolution in Indian railways and speed up India’s journey into the future. It will become an engine of economic transformation in India.”

aeroplanetakeoff-5Comparative Study of Bullet Train and Aircraft Services between Mumbai and Ahmedabad :-

If one indeed had $14.7bn fund in hand, the Bullet Train project does not score high when it is compared with Air connectivity. It would be prudent to deploy aeroplanes in place of trains.

 

Bullet Train Vs Aeroplane
Bullet Train Vs Aeroplane

Sometimes, not to invest becomes more advantageous. Before investing in new mega projects, it is necessary to review the present situation and other available options.

A Bullet train ride will cost Rs 3300; while the airline will happily serve the traveler for as low a fare as Rs 2900 !!

In May 2016, during the course of the review of the railways sector, it was noted that the capital investment in 2015-16 was over Rs. 9,30,000 million. This represents a massive increase of 65 per cent over the previous year, and is the highest-ever, as per a PMO statement. The PMO added that 1780 km of rail lines have been commissioned and 1730 kms electrified during 2015-16, which represent the best performance on these metrics in railway history.

Even after this, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to emphasise the need for the railways to upgrade and diversify the uses of its infrastructure, as is apparent from the statement. PM Modi has asked the railways to speed up redevelopment of stations and substantially raise its “level of ambition” in this regard.

“Centre is working on upgrading rail infra. In rural areas this will boost skill development & increase non-fare revenue for railways,” PM Modi has said in a tweet.

“Progress in commissioning of lines & electrification of lines has been commendable. Discussed speeding up process of redeveloping stations,” he said in another tweet.