Journey by train is not a simple affair as compared to travelling by bus. It is because of the passenger friendly environment of the road transport system by Bus. The basic reasons is that the frequency is high with assured accommodation and ticket made available at your seat as compared to rail transport where buying a ticket and getting an accommodation is a herculean job.
But all the same, rail transport commands attraction because of safe and comfortable journey. It is most suited for long distance journey of more than 300 Km. The heartbeat does not stop with sudden adrenaline pumping due to frequent brake application which is really common in the bus journey in India
Considering the advantage of rail travel, a few simple steps may make the journey much more comfortable avoiding the basic disadvantages
- It is not simple as most of the trains get full almost 50 days in advance. It is good if you can foresee the journey time, then make the reservation. You can log on to IRCTC website for internet booking with many options to find suitable timings and train for the journey.
- If you don’t get confirmed ticket, another alternative is to go for tatkal for which the ticket window opens 1 day in advance at 10 Hrs before the date of the journey. Tatkal ticket will cost you more.
- RAC is almost a confirmed ticket as it gives respectful entry into the train. For getting the confirmed seat, you, in any case has to run around the train conductor.
- WL status keeps the passenger guessing. Even WL 1, means he keeps on checking the status every morning. No one knows how and when the vacant berths are distributed by Mr. to the wait listed passenger and is full of guess work. There is no trend of the number of wait listed passengers that will get cleared in the end. There are occasions when an extra coach is added in the formation and running every day, but the entry for reservation in PRS not fed resulting many berth getting confirmed at the last moment. But there is no option unless Indian Railways shares the information online of the trend of the number of wait listed passengers confirmed during the last 15 days at the time of preparation of reservation chart.
- You are not supposed to board the reserved coach of the train with wait listed ticket. Unless he boards the train, he will not come to know the vacant berths and submit claim. This is a blind area and soon Indian Railways shall find out a system to address this issue. However, there are no occasions where the TC has detrained wait listed passenger so you can also try your luck.
- There are occasions of extreme emergency when you can even afford to travel in unreserved compartment if berth is not confirmed. There is another option with you to explore getting emergency quota also called HO/VIP quota exists in each train released by the Railways authority located at the originating station of train. One can get the idea of the different quota from the website erail.in (It is non-Govt. website). You can try your luck for one or at the most two berths by sending request with document of emergency to the authority like General Manager or Chief Commercial Manager of the Zone from where the train originates for 1A, 2A and 3A class. Divisional Railway Manager of the Division from where the train originates for SL. FAX numbers are available at website.http://www.sarkaritel.com/ministries/railway/gm.php and for mobile you have to make an extra effort to find out the number.
- During emergency when travel is unavoidable, book your ticket through counter. E-ticket gets cancelled when not confirmed after the chart is prepared. In that case you don’t have the authority even to board the train.
- There is a list of VIPs defined by the Railways administration with protocol entitled for HO and is given priority in that order. The requisition slip signed by them also works almost in that priority. You may seek assistance from such VIPs for HO quota.
- Journey by AC1, 2 and 3 is much more comfortable as compared to SL. Besides comfort of AC travel, the most important advantage is of cleanliness, no un-authorised person making your journey uncomfortable.
Boarding the train
- On reaching the railway station, check for the platform from where the train starts. Many stations provides guidance board for the location of your coach from the engine.
- You can engage a licensed porter to carry your luggage to train. The porter rates are fixed by the Railway administration and but normally never displayed prominently. No porter will serve you at the rate fixed by the administration but you can decided how much more is reasonable considering this being a labour work.
- Not down the batch number (calledbilla) of the licensed porter so that if he gets lost in the crowd,hecan be traced later with the help of Railway administration.
- Indian Railways is now providing escalators at each important station. You may check the availability of escalator beforehand so that you don’t have to exert while climbing the foot over bridge stairs.
- Every station is provided with wheel chair to help differently able person and the facility may be utilised.
- Every platform is provided with a coach guidance board showing coach number like A1,2, B1,2, S1,2 etc. so that you can locate yourself near the right coach
Waiting for the train at the platform
- Time waiting for the train is always full of curiosity and anxiety as well.
- Waiting hall is provided at each station for upper and Sleeper class. In case you have reached very much in advance, the facility can be utilised. Upper class waiting halls are generally provided with air conditioned comfort.
- While buying eatables, you can check the price of the item displayed prominently by the stall owner and simply refuse to pay more than what is mentioned there.
On boarding the train
- Berth guidance boards are provided in each coach which is also illuminated during night time. There is a standard method for locating the berth.
- Set your luggage below the lower berth. Chain is provided to secure the luggage, one end of which is fixed with the berth and other can be used to put a lock. You can carry your own chain as well to secure the luggage safely.
- Indian Railway journey are little longer. Overnight journey time is most preferred but it extends to 24-30 hours involving on full day time. When it is unavoidable, it is always better to enjoy it. One should make full use of this for activities which you were wanting but could not find time such as (a) being to yourself and meditation (b) wring unfinished article (c) Reading unfinished book (d) spending time with children and playing games like lido, snake and ladder (e) listening to the music or watching film you had missed etc. One should have a positive approach, and you will enjoy the time.
- Check for pantry service in the train and order your need. Food is included in some of the train with journey ticket. Most of the Indian family carry home cooked food along with them. Private food counters are provided at major railway stations who can serve the food of your choice. They also serve food when ordered by mobile at your seat. For this you have to make some more effort to find out the mobile number and stations where such facility exists. Few of the website you can make a try are http://www.comesum.com/Place_Order.aspx ; http://www.travelkhana.com/travelkhana/jsp/order.jsp ; http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/goodbye-to-tasteless-train-food-now-book-your-travel-meals-online-179163.html ; http://www.merafoodchoice.com/; Travelkhana.com; YatraChef.com;
- There is a good news the other day that IR is likely to include “Diabetic Meals” into their Menu, a long standing demand for large many. http://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/indian-railways-may-start-including-diabetic-diet-in-their-menu-1268005
- Some time you may find the Air Condition temperature low making your journey uncomfortable. This is due to the fact that one temperature setting cannot suit all. It is better to help yourself by fixing a paper with tape on the AC grill thus reducing the cool air outlet. For this never forget to carry cello tape along with you.
- Keep a garbage bag near your seat to put all the garbage keeping your place neat and clean, a must for comfortable journey. Never through the garbage outside the train. Indian Railways has also started On Board Cleaning services and can demand cleaning of toilet or any other place when required. Otherwise, Railways has identified Clean Train Station where the uniform service staffs come for cleaning the coach.OBHS always ask for a feedback of the services, give a correct feedback which will help in improving the services. Never crib for poor cleaning but demand the servicefromOBHS or CTS.
- Make sure that you don’t use the toilet when the train is standing. This will help Railways to help you better. Indian Railways is planning bio-toilet and may take another few years for full implementation. Thereafter, you will not be required to wait for the train to start and pick up speed.
- Mobile/Laptop chargingfacilityis provided in each cabin. Use mobile fortheminimum time and keep in silent modeduringnight time to avoid inconvenience to co-passenger. Prefer using head phone for music or watching film/video.
- AC class provides bedroll with washed linen (2nos), pillow, blanket and towel. You can help railways by not spoiling it spill over of eatables, cleaning shoes etc. Return the bed roll after use. Don’t take away the item as shortage will be deducted from the salary of the attendant.
- Avoid paying tips to any staff when they are paid staff of the Railways.
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