In a bid to provide seamless last-mile connectivity to travellers, the Railways is introducing ‘rent-a-bike' facility at 15 stations coming under the Thiruvananthapuram railway division. The service has already been put in place at the busy Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town railway stations. The facility will be launched at the Thiruvananthapuram, Kochuveli, Kazhakoottam, Varkala, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Tripunithura, Aluva, Angamaly, Chalakkudy and Thrissur railway stations in the immediate future.
The stations of important towns and places with tourist centres would boast of ‘rent-a-bike’ facilities, informed the Railway Commercial Department. One can hire a ‘Bullet’ motorbike at Chalakkudy to head to the pristine Malakkappara and Valparai hill stations or hop on a rented bike at Alappuzha to enjoy the serenity of Munnar. Besides motorbikes, travellers can also hire scooters. The rates, which are affordable, are calculated based on duration and distance.
A ‘Bullet’ bike can be hired at Rs 192, inclusive of all taxes, for one hour for a distance of 10km and thereafter Rs 5 will be charged for every additional kilometre travelled, and the rates for two hours and three hours are Rs 230 and Rs 358 respectively. The scooter rental charges are fixed at Rs 128, Rs 192 and Rs 256 for one hour, two hours and three hours respectively.
The two-wheelers are also available for monthly rentals. A helmet is free for the rider and the head protective gear should be hired for the pillion rider. If a rider experiences any technical glitch on the road, all support will be given by the rental company and, if needed, a replacement vehicle will be provided.
Anyone can hire a two-wheeler after furnishing the Aadhaar card and driving licence, and the vehicles can also be pre-booked after uploading the relevant documents on www.caferides.com.
The railways is also planning to shortly restart the ‘rent-a-car’ scheme, which had to be suspended after train services were disrupted due to COVID-19-induced restrictions.
The EVM Group, which had taken over startup company Caferides, has clinched the 5-year deal to run the ‘rent-a-bike’ scheme. “Apart from ‘Activa’ scooters, ‘Thunderbird’, ‘Classic’ and ‘Standard 500’ models of Royal Enfield bikes are available for rent at the stations,” said Rakesh, EVM deputy general manager.
Plans are on anvil to introduce electric scooters and mobile apps to avail the service. The scheme, which was launched in Thiruvananthapuram railway division, will be replicated at stations in the Palakkad division in the near future.
The ‘rent-a-bike’ project is being implemented by the business development unit of the Thiruvananthapuram division in a bid increase earnings from sources other than railway ticket sales. The railways will be pocketing an additional income of Rs 10 lakh as licence fee every year.