Day 34 – Q 2. Air travel is giving stiff competition to the railways with aggressive pricing and quality service. What measures should the railways adopt to stay relevant? Suggest.
2. Air travel is giving stiff competition to the railways with aggressive pricing and quality service. What measures should the railways adopt to stay relevant? Suggest.
हवाई यात्रा आक्रामक मूल्य निर्धारण और गुणवत्ता सेवा के साथ रेलवे को कड़ी प्रतिस्पर्धा दे रही है। रेलवे को प्रासंगिक रहने के लिए किस उपाय को अपनाना चाहिए? सुझाव दें।
Indian Railways, often described as the “transport lifeline of the nation”, is the fourth largest railway network in the world. In recent years there has been a decline in passenger growth in railways and a double-digit growth in air travel due to certain factors like narrowing fare gap between the two, time saving and the quality service in case of air travel.
Measures railways can adopt to stay relevant:
- Capacity augmentation- Too many trains run on the same stretch of lines, causing excessive wear and tear and delays. Railways should thus increase the number of tracks, convert narrow gauges to broad gauge to maintain uniform tracks, double, triple and quadruple the rail lines and maintain separate tracks for freight and passenger trains. Commissioning of dedicated freight corridors by 2020 will also help improve the capacity.
- Travel time- The gap in travel time between air and rail cannot be eliminated completely, it can however be reduced. One by increasing the average speed of trains and two by fitting the departure and arrival times within the window of 6 pm to 9 am so as not to eat into productive hours of the day.
- End cross subsidization- The lower-class passenger fares are being cross-subsidized on the behest of AC classes, thus increasing the fares of AC coaches. End of this subsidization can result in lower fares and thus competitive prices with airways.
- Wage costs- Most of the earnings of railways (62% in FY18) are spent on wages. This should be optimized so as to utilize the workforce well and reduce the costs.
- High-end technology- Bullet trains and Hyperloop can not only significantly reduce the travel time but also provide a qualitative experience to the user.
- Investments- Investment either by government or by private sector in various domains like infrastructure, safety requirements, qualitative services etc. needs to be pushed.
- Market-driven and customer centric- Railway tourism, holiday packages etc. can also help railways in making its mark.
Railways cannot beat the speed and efficiency of air travel, but with above-mentioned measures it can definitely give it a tough competition and maintain its own niche, so as to ultimately benefit the consumer by giving them multiple transportation options.