Will Indian Railways charge more for lower berths?

Missed this news which came  a few days ago.

Apparently, the Indian Railways is mulling charging an extra Rs 50 for the lower berths:

Indian Railways is mulling a proposal to charge higher fare for lower berths bookings in its trains, Zee Business news channel reported. 

The recommendation that Indian Railways is currently studying says that a passenger be charged R 50 extra if they want to book lower berths as there is high demand for lower berths in railways. 

Following cues from airlines where the demand for window seats is high Indian Railways too is planning to increase charges on booking of berths. At present, railway travelers can select the berths while booking their tickets on Indian Railways website.

There is an interesting piece by Arup Chatterjee arguing against the move. He says such moves ignore the social aspects of railway travel in India.

However, one would argue that Railways is thinking about adding premium towards high demand lower births, it should add discount towards low demand births? Which are the low demand births?

Well, they are the side berths at the gate of the coach! Nothing is more irritating than getting these side berths. If the journey is a long one, then God save you. There is constant opening of the gate during day and night by fellow passengers and catering staff. One is never at peace with these seats. One can exchange other seats but no one wants these seats. One always prays while booking at IRCTC that he/she is not allotted these seats.

The railways can provide some comfort to such disgruntled passengers by charging lower fares. At least there shall be some respite.

On the lower berth move, Railways will have to think through as these seats are preferred by sick and senior citizens. Are you going to charge them as well?

There is little doubt that Indian Railways is trying all kinds of things to get more revenues. True, it is a commercial organisation and has to pay its expenses and thus look to charge from wherever. But it has to think through these issues carefully. Given it is a huge monopoly in transportation in India, people have really no choice. There is a lot of emotional connect to railways as Arup has nicely pointed out.

Lots of issues need to be balanced here which is not so easy.



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