Monday, August 25, 2014

After poor response for premium Mumbai-Goa specials, railways opens counter booking

Monday, 25 August 2014 - 6:15am IST | Agency: DNA

The near-empty run by the first double-decker special train between Mumbai and Goa on Friday has prompted the railways to also allow booking for these premium Ganpati services at station counters.
Hitherto, booking for all premium trains has been online. But disappointed by the poor response, railway officials announced on Sunday that tickets would be available at reservation centres at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Thane and Panvel, on the evening before the scheduled date of departure.
What this means is that for the train leaving on say August 27, the final reservation chart would be prepared by 5pm on August 26 and those still wanting to buy tickets on the train could do so at the reservation centres.
"Of course, this is if tickets are available. Going by the response so far, it would not be a surprise if tickets are unsold," an official said.
There were just 135 travellers on the first double-decker special on Friday. The train has 960 seats. The return trip the following day was worse with only XX seats booked.
dna had reported earlier that some officials felt many people, who were not tech-savvy, were put off by the online booking rule.
On Sunday, the special train that left the Kurla terminus was terminated at Panvel following the derailment of a freight train further down the Konkan Railway line. Consequently, there will be no special train on Monday also.
Officials admit that the railway ministry may have been over-enthusiastic in announcing such a large number of premium services for Mumbai this Ganpati season, without undertaking a thorough profile of the average festival traveller.
It's very likely that the steep fare is also a drawback. The Mumbai-Goa charge on the premium train is about Rs1,050, against the average Rs400 sleeper class fare.
"For years we have seen state transport buses under tremendous pressure during the Ganpati festival. We've seen sleeper class coaches sold out within seconds. Deploying premium air-conditioned trains may not have been the solution," the official said.

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