The Indian Railways is considering a review of the surge pricing norms for Suvidha Express trains, following criticism of exorbitant fares during the festive season. As per a ToI report, the fares for these premium express trains, such as the Jaipur-Yesvantpur (Bengaluru) and Mumbai-Patna routes, have reached as high as Rs 11,230 for an AC-2 berth and Rs 9,395 respectively. Currently, the railways allows a maximum increase of 300% in the base fare and other charges for both AC and non-AC berths, but this may be capped at a lower level in the near future.
At present, only two Suvidha Express trains run on the Mumbai-Patna and Jaipur-Yesvantpur routes. The Mumbai-Patna service operates twice a week, while the Jaipur-Yesvantpur service is a weekly one. Introduced in 2014, the premium express train service was meant to cater to busy routes and only offers confirmed and RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation) tickets.
According to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the 2AC ticket fare for the Mumbai-Patna Suvidha Express is Rs 9,395 until December 8. Similarly, for the Jaipur-Yesvantpur Suvidha Express, the one-way 2AC fare is Rs 11,230 until February 3. Surprisingly, these train fares are even higher than air fares. For instance, a one-way flight ticket from Jaipur to Mumbai on November 25 costs Rs 7,549, and the cheapest one-way airfare from Mumbai to Patna on November 22 is Rs 7,022.
While several premium express trains were introduced on high-demand routes to provide confirmed tickets for passengers willing to pay more, the services were significantly reduced due to negative feedback regarding the high fares, officials have stated. To alleviate the rush during the festival season, the railways has introduced additional trains. Since October 1, a total of 2,423 special trains have been operated, carrying 36 lakh passengers. Comparatively, during the same period last year, there were 2,614 trips. This year, the number of trips has been tripled to 6,754 in order to accommodate the increased demand, as confirmed by an official.