Shatabdi is the heart of Indian railways

One of the best ways to see India is to undertake a train journey, and the Shatabdi Express – the heart of Indian railways – is one such rail network that offers one of the best options for domestic travellers, says travel guide book Lonely Planet.

After enabling curious Indian travellers to experience the world via outbound travel guides specifically designed for Indian travellers last year, Lonely Planet is exploring the domestic Indian market with its new series of ‘pocket travel guides’.

The first in the series of pocket books titled, “Holidays by Shatabdi” was recently launched in the capital as a guide to destinations easily reachable by Shatabdi from Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai being next in the series.

“After the launch of our Lonely Planet for the Indian Traveller series last year and Short Escapes travel guides series in March 2013, we decided to tap those tourists who use the services of Shatabdi Express to travel to destinations in the sub-continent,” says Sesh Sheshadri, General Manager, Lonely Planet India.

“Shatabdi Express being one of the most popular trains in this genre was first on our mind when we decided to come out with a guide for train travellers.’Holidays by Shatabdi’ enables travellers to make the most of their trips by visiting destinations near the city. The first in the series is for travellers who board Shatabdi from Delhi,” he added.

Also on the agenda are a set of books that can take the cinema loving tourist to places inside the country that have a Bollywood connection.

“The ‘Bollywood Escape’ series will focus on places which are known for some bollywood connection, be it a shooting spot for any movie or something other,” Sheshadri told PTI.

According to him, whenever we think about luxury travelling from Indian railways the international tourists zero down on options like Deccan Queen, Maharaja Express or Palace on wheels.

“But we cannot ignore the domestic travellers for whom Shatabdi can also be an option for luxury and comfortable travelling, ” he said adding, “the domestic market is much bigger considering the number of Indian rail travellers every year and hence our effort is to provide the travellers, the benefit of travelling with authentic information.

The guide being pocket size is a quick read for anyone on the go and enables travellers to make the most of their time by exploring destinations close to Delhi. The travel guide lists all the must see tourist destinations with comprehensive details about places to stay, food, and shopping.

Priced at Rs. 140 each, the guide also features value-for-money suggestions for travellers along with expert travel tips and advice. It gives a detailed picture of fun filled activities for all interests and age groups.

Compiled by a team of five travel writers including Juhi Saklani, Karuna Ezara Parikh, Parvati Sharma, Puneetinder Kaur Sindhu and Sarah Islam, the guides are produced in full colour and packed with photographs to inspire the readers to pack up their bags and board Shatabdi.

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/shatabdi-is-the-heart-of-indian-railways-lonely-planet-377200?pfrom=home-otherstories

E-ticket cancellations fetch railways Rs 750 crore

An integral part of a family holiday or business trip is proper planning, and most Indian travellers usually book their train tickets weeks, if not months, in advance. But the best laid plans can go awry and often do. The Indian Railways understands this principle well-it is what has, after all, enriched the government organization substantially over the years.

Between 2005 and 2011, the Railways earned a neat Rs 750 crore (almost equivalent to its annual profit) on account of cancellations of e-tickets alone. (Its earnings from e-tickets from 2005 to April 2012 were Rs 30,094 crore.) RTI activist Manoranjan Roy, who procured this information, says that the railways must do away with cancellation charges. “Indian Railways now has several avenues for generating revenue,” he points out. “It must stop burdening the common man with cancellation charges.”

In 2011, between March and December, the railways earned Rs 198 crore from cancellation charges of e-tickets. Ever since it began in 2005, e-ticketing has ballooned to make up about 40% of all rail ticket sales. Railway officials say that the convenience that booking and cancelling an e-ticket offers has seen more passengers making advance bookings that very often result in cancellations. In fact, one out of every three e-tickets sold is cancelled.

If a confirmed ticket is cancelled more than 24 hours before the scheduled departure of the train, the penalty is Rs 70 for an AC first-class ticket, Rs 60 for AC Tier-2, AC Tier-3 and AC chair car, Rs 40 for sleeper class and Rs 20 for a second-class ticket. In fact, even if a wait-listed ticket is not confirmed, the Railways go on to deduct Rs 20 before refunding the remaining sum.

Popular trains have long waiting lists of 700 or 800. “Close to 95% of the wait-listed tickets do not get confirmed and automatically stand cancelled,” explains a rail officer. “Hence, what ordinarily happens is that most passengers book themselves on more than one train; others with flexible travel dates book tickets on different days if they are on the waiting list.”

Clearly, somebody’s attempts to stay on top of the chaotic train travel in India can be somebody else’s huge gain.

E-way to big bucks

Year ——– Tickets sold (lakh) —— Ticket sale income (Rs crore)——- Revenue from cancellation charges (Rs crore)

2005-06 —-25 ———- 317 ——- 2.85

2006-07 —-68 ———- 678 ——- 5.79

2007-08 —- 189 ——- 1,700 —— 15.61

2008-09 —- 440 —— 3883 ——– 99.42

2009-10 —- 719 —— 6011 ——– 190.63

2010-11 —- 969 —— 8007 ——– 235.37

2011-12 —-1,161 —– 9498 ——– 198.80*

(* Cancellation figures up to December 2011)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/E-ticket-cancellations-fetch-railways-Rs-750-crore/articleshow/13418793.cms