Hyderabad: A mad rush has begun for train tickets for the upcoming Sankranti season. Thousands of people are travelling between the two Telugu states on a daily basis for the holiday season. Officials from the South Central Railway (SCR) said that more than 270 special trains have been announced since the middle of December. Several more are expected to be announced before the Sankranti season sets in next week.
Most of the trips seem to be to cities and towns in Andhra Pradesh such as Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Narsapur, Guntakal and Renigunta. Many trains are also being run to other neighbouring states, especially Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.A representative of SCR said, “In normal scenarios, we move around 10.5 lakh people every day. During this festival season — which is expected to last until January-end — we are moving at least 1.5 lakh more,” he said. Elucidating further, he said more than 20 extra (special) trains are being run every day across SCR.
The special trains come in three categories — the special trains, Jansadharan trains and Suvidha trains. Tickets for the special trains are congruent with Tatkal charges. These form the largest chunk of trains — more than 180 of the 270. In the Jansadharan category, tickets are unreserved. They are meant to serve as buffers to trains on busy routes, where tickets are not easy to buy due to high demand. There are around 80 such trains.
In the Suvidha category, tickets are the most expensive. The first 20 per cent of the tickets can be bought at tatkal rates, after which the cost increases in increments. The last few tickets in these trains can be sold for as much as three times the normal Tatkal rates. Such is the demand for tickets, that even these tickets get booked within minutes.
The official quoted above said that the department is trying to cater to as many people as possible. “The demand for tickets is very high. To cater to the people who absolutely need it, we are sending messages to people with waiting-list tickets whenever we announce a special train on their route. This way, they get a chance to book tickets before someone else snags them,” he said.
However, there are a few problems with the way these trains have been announced. There seems to be a lack of coordination between railway zones, which has led to fewer trains than necessary on some important stretches.
Sasidhar Uppuluri, member of a Railway Users’ Association in the south-central zone, said that SCR was actually doing a good job within the zone. “However, there aren’t that many trains to Visakhapatnam and other cities along the east coast that fall under other railway zones which see high traffic. This is because SCR is not sure if the other zone will reciprocate their request for a special train. Only better inter-zonal cooperation can solve this problem.”...