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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Indian Railways introduces ' Alternate Train accommodation Scheme'

Indian Railways  is a marvel ~the vast network comprising 115,000 km (71,000 mi) of track over a route of 65,808 km (40,891 mi) and 7,112 stations has over the decades seen great advancement and technological adaptation.  One need not go back to 1853 when the first train ran from Mumbai to Thane to understand this.

Booking a ticket by train was a cumbersome process till mid 1980s – a huge complex came up at Moore Market complex in Madras nearer Central Railway Station – there were so many counters – and one can stand in any queue and book ticket to any place ! – though it took  couple of hours to book a ticket, we wondered how technological advancement has made life easier. Fortunately, it did not stop there but  has been spurred by constant improvement – and now people are travelling hassle free, booking tickets from cosy comfort of their home / office / on the move from mobiles and travelling without a printout of the ticket.

One can order their choice of food too – rather than being dependent on the pantry or what the hawker sells.  Spurred by a steady rise in the popularity of its e-catering, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) has branded the service with a new name 'Food On Track'.  In addition to the already existing Dominos Pizza and KFC, the 'Food On Track' have tied up with Copper Chimney, Cafe Chino, Masala Chicken, Punjab Grill among others to increase the varieties of the food items for train passengers, writes Economic Times of date.

The Electronic reservation slip [we know it as e-ticket] has many details – but one could observe that there is no Ticket no. but Transaction ID and most important PNR number ?

In the airline and travel industries, a passenger name record (PNR) is a record in the database of a computer reservation system (CRS) that contains the itinerary for a passenger, or a group of passengers travelling together. The concept of a PNR was first introduced by airlines that needed to exchange reservation information in case passengers required flights of multiple airlines to reach their destination.  As far as Indian Railways are concerned, the PNR number is a 10-digit number printed on the upper right corner of your Indian Railway ticket. (It used to be divided into 2 parts, 3+7 digits, but no longer…) - - the first three digits vary according to the class of travel. Tickets for 3A class have certain series of digits, non AC sleeper have some other series and so on. The remaining seven digits are just a serial number.

A few years back, to meet the urgent requirement of the passengers who plan their journey at short notice,  Railways introduced Tatkal reservation facility.   Presently, the  advance reservation period under this scheme is one day excluding the day of journey. Proof of identity is required to be produced by the passenger seeking reservation under Tatkal Scheme, at the time of booking as well as during the journey.  Tatkal tickets cost a bit more than regular tickets.  Following its success Railways dangled with ‘Premium Tatkal’ in Oct 2014, wherein half of tickets on certain travels are dynamically priced ! – these can only be purchased online.

Now Railways are going to roll out another novel feature – With a view to provide confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers and also to ensure optimal utilisation of available accommodation, a scheme called Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme – VIKALP has been conceptualised and is being introduced w.e.f. 01.11.2015 initially only for the tickets booked through internet as a pilot project for six months, on Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Jammu sectors of Northern Railway. In this scheme, wait listed passengers of a train can opt for confirmed accommodation in alternate trains.  Some salient features of this scheme [as stated in the release of Press Information Bureau and IRCTC] are :

•          At time of booking, the current available seat is in waiting list, passenger would be provided an option to opt for accommodation in alternate train. This would be irrespective of declaration of run of alternate train.
•          This scheme shall be provided to all waitlist passengers irrespective of availing concession.
•          ATAS opted passengers booked in fully WL and remain fully WL after charting will only be considered for allotment in the alternate train.
•          Fully WL passengers opted for ATAS should check PNR status after charting.
•          No extra charges shall be taken from passenger or any refund shall be provided for difference of fare.
•          All passengers of a PNR will be provided Alternate Accommodation.
•          When an ATAS opted passenger opts to cancel after he has been given an alternate accommodation, he will be treated as a CONFIRMED passenger and the cancellation rules will apply accordingly.
•          No refund for difference of fare between the original train and the alternate train, including tatkal charges, will be given to re-allocated passengers.
•          Once an ATAS passenger has been allotted alternate accommodation, modification will not be allowed on such PNRs.
•          When a passenger allotted alternate accommodation has not performed his journey in the alternate train, he will be given refunds based on the EDR done for the alternate train.
•          There will be check in the system that the scheduled departure of the alternate train is at least 1/2 Hours and maximum 6 Hours after the main train.
•          The train type of alternate train will be same as the main train.
•          Only those passengers whose FROM – TO stations will match in alternate train will be transferred.

Presently,  waitlisted tickets only get cancelled ~ under the new proposal, system allows a person to opt for alternative trains.  This will help passengers booking on multiple trains and waiting for confirmation.   Not sure, whether or when this will be applicable in Southern Railway too.

Another interesting news item on Railways reads that Indian Railways has entered into a agreement with Adani Power for supplying 50 MW electricity at Rs 3.69 per unit for three years, which will result in saving of around Rs 150 crore annually.  The news in Economic Times states that IR has been procuring power through the State Utilities at an average rate of Rs 6.75 per unit. Adani Power Ltd have been awarded the contract at a landed tariff of Rs 3.69 per kWH (unit) for a period of three years.

With regards – S.Sampathkumar
15th Oct 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Its nice to introduce with IRCTC and its alternates and get detail of irctc signup for traveling trains.