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Jan 24, 2015

IRCTC's new premium special trains with dynamic pricing

Indian Railway has introduced  many new trains where the fare is dynamic.In this article, the salient features of premium special trains on dynamic pricing are explained. Some of these are mentioned on online railway ticket booking website, but they require further explanation and understanding. In particular it should be clear how fare is calculated, and what is meant by dynamic pricing.

india's first premium special train
snapshot of India's first premium special train

The fare is usually constant for a journey by train when one travels from one place to another. This means when one does a fare enquiry of a train a certain value is returned. This value represents the the price which one has to pay for traveling. Usually this value remains constant for a period of time, unless the railway increases or decreases the fare. The trains with dynamic pricing are different. Here one cannot be sure of the fare, as it keeps changing over the time. Depending upon the demand, availability of seats, and other factors, the fare could change. This means it is not constant, but dynamic in nature. Also the schedule of these trains is not fixed. This is because as soon as the demand dies down, the operation of dynamic trains is stopped. Some of these train have a premium tatkal quota which customers can should be looking to take advantage in order to get a confirmed railway ticket.

Now, there are some special feature, or one can say rules, that are specifically applicable to premium special trains, and are significantly different from the rules that are applied to other trains that run under the indian railway. One might say these are salient features of special trains that work on principle of dynamic pricing. These are listed below.

  1. Reservation in dynamic trains can be done only online i.e. through irctc.co.in website and not through railway reservation counters located at the railway premises.
  2. The exception of above rule (1) is if there remains availability (check irctc seat availability status here) after chart preparation of the train seats can be booked by buying tickets at 'current reservation counters' at railway stations. 
  3. The ARP (Advance Reservation Period) for Premium Special trains with dynamic price is just 10 days compared to 90 days for non-premium trains.
  4. Only tickets with pnr status as Confirmed (CF) or RAC are issued in case of premium special express. It means there is no waiting list prepared for these trains.
  5. No amount is refunded when a ticket is canceled.
  6. No concession is given to passengers travelling by special trains having dynamic fare even if they belong to Senior Citizen (SS), Ladies, or Student category.
The first of such train's - a Premium Air-Conditioned Special was introduced on the busy Delhi – Mumbai sector with shorter Advance Reservation Period in December 2013 – January 2014. It quickly gained popularity among the travelers in India and railway benefited with 48 percent increased earnings. After this it was a matter of time before railway made the service regular. Since then many new dynamic price trains have been started by railway and it continues to be popular among masses. Users can see the complete list of Special Trains here to know how many such trains have been started recently, their source and destination along with arrival and departure time. IRCTC also publishes the list of premium special trains with dynamic fare - the PDF that can be downloaded here.

The demand usually increases during festival periods and on certain special occasions like national holidays when people like to travel back home. Since the holidays are for few days only, the time of the train matters. During such time certain trains, especially those which travel most part of their route at night, are on hit list for booking. In other trains the travel agents keep seats reserved due to booking rules which allows reservation 3 months in advance. On the other hand online tatkal ticket booking on irctc starts only 1 day in advance which is too late to rely upon  for getting confirmed train tickets especially when the vacations last only for couple of days. You don't want to see tickets not available message at the last moment - Would You? This is where premium special trains with dynamic pricing comes to the rescue of railway commuters.


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