Unique onboard shopping on Konkan Railway trains

In an endeavour to provide better customer services and to make the journey more pleasurable, Konkan Railway has launched yet another service oriented scheme to provide an unique experience for rail passengers — The On-Board Shopping Service in Konkankanya and Mandovi Express trains.

The service provides attractive and utility products for sale to passengers traveling by Konkan Railway. This unique service was enjoyed up till now only by Air travelers or though E- shopping. Now Konkan Railway passengers can also enjoy the pleasure of feeling the products and shopping right at their place of seat whilst their journey.

Commencing on February 14, which is coincidentally Valentine’s Day, this unique service of On Board shopping is being introduced in Konkankanya and Mandovi Express.

M/s Ava Merchandising Solutions Pvt Ltd has been authorized to sell various products at most discounted and competitive rates to the passengers. The items shall be vended during day time of journey between Mangaon and Madgaon stations. The items include lifestyle watches for ladies and gents, portable music system, neck band MP3 player, designer jewellery set, ladies clutches and handbags, multi media speakers. spy pen with video recorder, portable battery pack, car inverter, sun glasses, computer travel kit, belts and wallets, variety of perfumes, trendy toys and many more attractive products.


AC train travel soars; air traffic shrinks

Air-conditioned rail travel is more popular than ever, with the numbers soaring this fiscal, even as airlines entered their eighth month of declining growth in December 2012.

This is largely due to the widening gap between AC train fares and airfares, as airlines increasingly move away from the low-cost concept.

For April-December 2012, the number of domestic air passengers fell by six per cent. Meanwhile, train bookings for all air-conditioned (AC) segments showed a positive growth trend during the period — 9 per cent for AC first-class, 5.82 per cent for 2{+n}{+d}AC, 11.85 per cent for AC 3-tier, 14 per cent for chair car and a whopping 60 per cent for executive chair-car. Rail travel growth is, however, likely to be marginally inflated as the Railways have allowed bookings 120 days in advance from mid-March 2012. For the period before that, bookings were allowed 90 days ahead.

In early 2012, both low-cost and full service airlines decided not to charge fares that did not recover the operating cost of the flights. The grounding of Kingfisher Airlines added to the misery of fliers, as the airline was targeting a higher market share by dropping fares.

Meanwhile, the Railways booked more AC passengers despite fare increases in 2012. Travel in 1{+s}{+t} and 2{+n}{+d} AC classes became costlier in April 2012, followed by another round of hikes for all AC travel from October due to higher service tax.

The growth trend in AC train travel is unlikely to reverse, even after Tuesday, when another round of fare hikes take effect.

“The increase in rail ticket prices will not have any impact on air travel, as the hike is marginal and the fare difference between an AC First Class and the cheapest economy ticket is more than 40 per cent,” John Nair, Vice-President, Business Travel, Cox & Kings, said.

A recent study by market research firm market-Xcel Data Matrix, of over 12,000 rail passengers, shows that 41 per cent were willing to pay 5-10 per cent higher charges, 19 per cent were ready to shell out 10-25 per cent higher fares, another 10 per cent were fine with paying 25-50 per cent more.

Vinay Mittal, Railway Board Chairman, maintained that airfares were too high and dynamic to impact rail fares. K.K. Srivastava, Railways’ Member Traffic, said the airlines had dropped fares on limited routes and offered far fewer seats to impact the Railways AC segment.



Northern Railway to bring out a timetable for special trains

In a major relief to rail passengers, the Northern Railway will be drafting a separate timetable listing only the special trains introduced to cater to the festival rush. The decision has been taken in the wake of some glitches and operational delay in the running of special trains, Railways officials said.

“A separate timetable will be maintained for special trains. This will minimise the inconvenience faced by passengers. Since special trains are run on a need-basis and their numbers cannot be fixed, we were not able to prepare a concrete schedule so far,” a senior Northern Railway official said.

According to statistics available with the Northern Railway, 80 pairs of special trains were introduced this season, which made around 1,800 trips. Of this, 35 special Patna-bound trains were run for Chhath Puja over a span of four days.

Around 16 to 22 additional coaches were added to special trains. On regular trains, on an average, about 24 additional coaches are being attached.

Officials said the timetable will also include the special train arrangement to be run for Holi next year.

The train schedule for next year will also have provisions for including schedules of special trains.

“The annual train schedule, which is made in June, will also take into consideration the special train arrangements made to tackle the festival rush. Usually, the planning of festival trains is done four to five months in advance. If an additional special train is sanctioned at the last moment, these will be included in the special train timetable,” the official said.


Mangala Isai, a big hit among rail passengers

Welcoming passengers in a traditional manner, the loudspeakers installed at the Egmore Railway Station play Mangala Isai during the morning hours. The initiative, experimented at Egmore on the lines of Tiruchirapalli Junction Railway Station in Central Tamil Nadu, has been well received by the commuters, claim authorities.

“Taking a cue from Tiruchirapalli Junction, we play Mangala Isai audio from 4.30 am everyday, as trains from Southern districts begin arriving at Egmore,” a senior Railway official said.

“The classical instrumental music is played till 10 am, in between train arrival announcements, in an effort create a pleasant ambience for the visitors alighting at Egmore,” the official added.

Around 24,000 passengers commuting by 16 express trains from South Tamil Nadu arrive at the Egmore Railway Station between 4.30 am and 10.00 am, regularly.

“The initiative commenced mid-December last year (2011). People arrive in different moods at the railway station and we believe that welcoming them with classical music would refresh their mind,” an official observed.

The classical music in Nadaswaram and Thavil, is played everyday. Desikan, a commuter felt this was better than playing film music. “It is really pleasant to hear Mangala Isai at the railway station in the morning,” he added.

On the other hand, authorities at the Egmore Railway Station have introduced a new system at the enquiry counter, wherein the response from the official manning the counter would be audible for more people.

According to sources, the system of enquiry has been modified in such a way that the reply by the person from counter would reach multiple persons, who may be waiting in the queue with the same queries.


Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 8:01 am  Comments (1)  
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Pay for bed-rolls at counters now

Rail passengers will now be given the option of availing of bed-rolls while booking tickets for the Garib Rath train and pay the requisite charges at the booking counter itself. A similar provision will be made for passengers booking tickets through Internet, said a Railway notification.

At present, bed-rolls are supplied to passengers on demand and charges are collected separately from them.


Published in: on October 27, 2012 at 6:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Internet facilities for train passengers on anvil

New Delhi (PTI) Be it booking a ticket or keeping a tab on the stock market, select rail passengers will soon be able to work online while on the move as Railway authorities are mulling on a proposal to provide satellite-based Internet facility on premier trains.

Besides checking the stock prices on real time basis, passengers of such trains can access bank accounts and also book air and rail tickets while travelling.

A trial run was successfully carried out on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express and the report has been submitted to the Railway Ministry.

The report is being examined and the ministry is likely to appoint a committee for working out the modalities for introduction of Internet in trains, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

Besides Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, saloon cars and accident relief trains are also to be equipped with the transmission technology for Internet connectivity.

The proposal also envisages provision of LCD screen on every seat of Ist AC coach of Shatabdi and Ist and IInd AC coaches of Rajdhani trains.

It is estimated to cost about Rs 340 crores to implement the ambitious project as it requires VSAT terminal, Wi-fi set up, dedicated VSAT hub among other equipment.