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Friday, March 6, 2015

Railway Season Ticket ~ split ticket : Crime in India ~ legal in UK

Chennai is well connected by buses – the Metropolitan Transport Corporation [MTC] runs buses connect all important points and lakhs travel by it everyday. The fares are primarily determined by the distance [called stages] and the type of bus [ordinary, Express, Deluxe, Airconditioned ,..] During our college days, we had ‘tokens’ which allowed travel in all buses and then came ‘all route bus pass’ replaced by ‘bus pass on specific route.  Now too, you have Students’ Free passes and daily passes.  In many buses they print the tickets on hand-held device rather than the old printed tickets, which they would take at Terminus with numbers recorded – conductors would update the sales at every stage.  Presently, there is a daily pass [travel as you please] for Rs.50/- with which you can travel in any buss [excluding Air conditioned / night services / chartered trips] The weekly pass costs Rs.300/- and the monthly travel ticket costs Rs.1000/-

Then there are sub-urban trains too –   the West line that originates from Chennai Central MMC running through Basinbridge, Vyasarpadi, Perambur, Villivakkam, Ambattur, Thirumullaivyoyal, Avadi, Thirunindaravur, Thiruvallur … extending to Arakkonam Junction.   The North Line from Chennai MMC – Tondiarpet, Thiruvotriyur, Ennore, Athipattu, Minjur,  Ponneri and extending beyond.  The Southern line along GST – from Chennai Beach, Fort, Park, Egmore, Mambalam, Guindy, Meenambakkam, Chromepet, Tambaram – extending further upto Perungalathur, Guduvancheri, Maraimalai nagar, Singaperumal Kovil, Chengalpattu, Palayaseevaram, Kanchipuram, Tirumalpur .. !

On a different plane is the MRTS[the parakkum rail] – Chennai Beach to Velacherry @ Rs.5 per travel and monthly Season costing a mere Rs.120/- including Service tax.  I had posted earlier on the ‘Undertaking by Season Ticket Holders’ declaring  that they would follow the Season Ticket rules and will not indulge in any anti social / unlawful activities or commit any offence under IPC or Railway Act while availing the Season ticket !!  - MRTS is not alone -  Season tickets are issued for suburban as well as non-suburban sections. Fares for Second Class MST is equivalent to the fares for 15 single journeys by second class (Ordinary) uniformly for all distances. Fares for First class MST continues to be four times the Second Class MST fares [not of much use in MRTS and most of them do not have a First class !!]. Season tickets to children are issued at half of the adult season ticket fare. Quarterly Season tickets are charged at 2.7 times of the normal adult/child MST fare.

Season tickets are issued for First and Second classes only and these tickets are valid in the class for which they are issued. Only one season ticket is issued to a passenger to travel between the stations serving his place of residence and place of work/studies. If the passenger is found with more than one season ticket to flout the distance limits, the additional season ticket will be treated as invalid. First class season ticket holders are not allowed to travel in AC coaches. Season tickets are issued upto 150 Kms. only.

From the above, an interesting point is ‘No season ticket for travel beyond 150 kms’ and ‘NO multiple season ticket !’ – with this background, what was read in MailOnline makes an interesting read :  it states that the website allows passengers to save money on fares.  According to this report, buying tickets for separate legs of journey on the same train is cheaper; trains must stop at stations where all tickets are valid to and from -  passengers don't have to get off, allowing for huge savings on tickets – and Rail passengers could save millions of pounds a year thanks to a secret computer code which finds cut-price fares normally hidden from the public.

Founders of the website are helping travellers buy cheaper ‘split tickets’. This means that instead of buying one ticket for a journey, passengers can break their trip up into legs – offering a lower combined fare while travelling on the same train.  The website’s founders believe rail companies are overcharging passengers on 42 per cent of tickets sold. For example, a single off-peak ticket from Plymouth to Derby can cost £129.50 using the Trainline site. But buying five separate, single tickets for the route costs just £79.80 – a saving of £49.70.  Similarly, depending on the hours of travel, a return ticket between Manchester and London can cost £270. But by using to find five separate tickets, that is cut to just £179.50, saving £90.50.

Hereford-based computer programmer Nick Brown, 45, tried for three years to create a search engine to find cheap fares.  But it wasn't until he met rail buff Mark Richardson and his business partner George Sikking that he gained access to the pair’s vast databases of timetables, fares and reservations for the UK rail network. They launched the site last April with freelance software developer Paul Kelly, and it is used by 20 to 30 passengers a day. Mr Richardson told The Sunday Times: ‘The idea is to take insider knowledge and make it available to the general traveller, so they don’t have to work anything out themselves.’ The four experts now want to extend the service to tickets which include travel on London’s Tube.

They are working on an algorithm to show passengers how to buy cheaper fares if they are happy for their journey to take longer.  Although it is allowed under the conditions of carriage, train firms have in the past lobbied the government to banish split-ticketing.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Feb 2015.