Couchette Prices to Go Up 4.2% Starting New Year

Vladimir Savelyev, 26.11.2013 14:33
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Starting January 1, 2014 Federal Tariff Service is going to raise prices for seats in sitting and couchette carriages by 4.2%. It was announced on a press-conference by Vladimir Kalyapin, the first deputy CEO of Federal Passenger Company (FPC), TRN correspondent reports.

The price increase will affect the trains of JSC ‘Federal Passenger Company’, JSC ‘Sakhalin Passenger Company’ and JSC ‘Yakutia Railways’.

In 2013 tariffs for traveling in sitting and couchette carriages grew 20% due to the state not providing FPC with sufficient funds for reimbursing losses incurred due to government tariff regulation.

Inland tariffs for compartment, sleeping and first-class cars will not be indexed, which marks the third consecutive year prices for these cars remain unchanged.

For the compartment cars of the trains plying across Central Russia a newly-implemented system of ‘dynamic pricing’ is going to be in effect.

It is similar to the system used for selling air tickets. Tariffs are subject to change throughout the whole sales period (45 days) due to a number of factors: demand, number of vacant seats, market alternatives. Tickets will be at their cheapest during the first day of sale.

During the period of preparation for the Olympic Games those passengers who buy tickets for compartment and sleeping cars and set off for Krasnodar Krai from December 21, 2013 to April 16, 2014 will be able to use current tariffs which are in effect from November 1 to December 31, 2013.

These trains are not subject to the special ‘Plan ahead’ tariffs and seasonal tariffs, and these prices are not applicable to the trains already enrolled in the ‘dynamic pricing’ program.

Next year FPC will bring back the popular special tariffs ‘Plan ahead’ and ‘Buy more – pay less’, which will cover only inland compartment cars outside the framework of the ‘dynamic pricing’.

The ‘Plan ahead’ tariff affords a buyer a 50% discount for compartment car tickets, providing they are bought from 45 to 31 days prior to departure.

“Such a discount provides an opportunity to travel in a compartment for the price of a couchette,” says Elena Miroshnikova, press secretary for FPC. The tariff is only available from January 1, 2014 to April 24, 2014.

The ‘Buy more – pay less’ tariff lets passengers buy tickets at a 10% discount starting January 1 and until December 31, 2014, except for two days – May 8 and 9. However, the discount only applies to round trip tickets.

TRN asked travel agents who organize railway sightseeing tours to comment on this news.

Elena Chistyakova, head of the excursion department in the ‘Roza Vetrov’ company, believes railway transportation to be the hardest part in organizing group sightseeing tours. She also said that the possibility to buy tickets 60 days prior to departure does little good for the travel business, since groups of people are less likely to buy tickets that early. “As for special tariffs, we know nothing about them,” she added.

Anna Mikhailova, manager in ‘Roza Vetrov’, told TRN that getting tickets for group tours is not too problematic, but that it all changes if additional carriages need to be added to the train. “Then you have to get through massive amounts of red tape, and still there are times when, after going through all the hoops, it turns out that the carriage cannot be coupled,” she said.

According to FPC, the ‘Plan ahead’ tariff is effective staring 18 November. We asked Anna Mikhailova to log into the ticket booking system and check the price of the ‘Moscow – Petrozavodsk’ tickets for November and January. The first month of the next year should already be covered by the ‘Plan ahead’ tariff. The prices were 3.076 and 2.252 rubles respectively – not quite the promised 50% discount.  

Sergei Romashkin, general manager of the ‘Delfin’ company, noted that Moscow school students are starting to use compartment cars more when going on excursions, as opposed to couchettes.

‘Special tariffs have a limited scope, which makes them harder to use. Most hurdles arise when there is a need to replace names in the list of tour participants - quite a bit of red tape ensues,” he said.
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