New Delhi: With the new government increasing the railway fare by a whopping 14.2 per cent, disgruntled passengers are now mulling to take the air route with domestic air fares dropping with new entrants. At a time when the foray of AirAsia India has changed the country's aviation market drastically and the domestic airlines have lucrative discounts on offer, the loyal rail passengers may ditch the grand old Indian Railways and opt for plane journeys.
With the 14.2 per cent increase in rail prices, a 3rd AC ticket on all long distance routes cost a minimum of Rs 2,000 and of course a passenger's valuable 24 to 48 hours. On the other hand, domestic airlines such as SpiceJet are offering discounted tickets for as low as Rs 1,999 to all the metros.
"14 per cent is way too much. Why would I waste my money and time in a train when I can travel by air by spending almost the same money or just Rs 500 to 1000 more," says Sethu Lakshmi, a Delhiite who is travelling to Kerala next month.
While the passengers breathe a sigh of disappointment, it is the airlines that are awaiting to go the full monty. As Captain Gopinath, Founder, Air Deccan notes, the consumers of the Indian airline market have been stagnant since the past three to four years. Hence, the steep hike of 14.2 per cent in rail fare may see an influx of train passengers, he says.
Also, the airlines can reap huge benefits from the situation by introducing interesting offers and coming up with innovative ideas to attract the consumers, says Captain Gopinath.
With the urban crowds, at least, looking forward to travelling by air, people are curious to know if the low-fare airlines will further slash down their fares. To this, the Air Deccan chief said that the same is possible only if the government co-operates with the airlines. "Indian government is not airline friendly. If the government helps and the airlines themselves feel that they need to cut down on their fares, yes it is possible," he says.
The increased rail fare will be effective from June 25. But the passengers who have booked their tickets in advance would have to pay the extra charges once they board the train or at the ticket counter. This has added further fuel to the already simmering anger of passengers.
In countries like the US, travelling by air is cheaper than a train journey. With the sharp increase in train fare, will India too stand witness to such a revolution? Only time can tell.