Fares of two Tejas Express trains to be run by railway subsidiary IRCTC will be 50 per cent less than that of flights on same routes, sources said Tuesday. The Indian Railway Tourism and Catering Corporation (IRCTC), the railways' tourism and catering arm, has been given the "flexibility" to fix the fares of the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express and the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central Tejas Express as a test case ahead of railways' plans to rope in private players in the running of certain trains.
"The fares of these two trains will be around 50 per cent less than the price of flight tickets on the same route. Even during peak season, despite dynamic pricing, ticket prices will be lesser than flights," a source said.
While IRCTC is in the process of planning the modalities of the two trains which will be on par with Shatabdi trains, sources said these trains will neither offer concession nor quota to any passenger even if they are VIPs. The railways have provision for providing tickets at concessional rates to 53 categories, including senior citizens, differently-abled, patients and award winners. However, none of them would be given any concession in these trains.
Also, children above the age of 5 years will be charged a full fare, the source said. These will also likely be the first trains wherein passengers will be offered Rs 50 lakh travel insurance from private companies.
While a memorandum of understanding between the railways and IRCTC is yet to be signed after which all the details will be finalised, it is expected that the Delhi-Lucknow Tejas will begin operations in October while the second one will begin a month later.
Sources say the trains will have modern coaches with state-of-the-art interiors, LED television, call buttons, automatic doors and CCTV cameras. These trains will also be the only ones on the rail network where onboard ticket checking will not be done by the railway staff, but by IRCTC personnel.
Bringing in private train operators to provide world-class passenger service was a proposal mooted by the railways in the government's 100-day plan. Sources said handing over the two Tejas Express trains to IRCTC was the first step towards that.