Pathanamthitta: Travel gets bothersome during vacations as rail, bus and flight tickets are sold out fast and those remaining come at a premium.
However, the Railways has come to the rescue of all those eagerly looking to book the first ticket home. Taking the Christmas-New Year season into consideration, the Railways will operate 51 special trains to Kerala from important cities outside the State.
While the Southern Railway has announced 17 special train services to Kerala from various destinations, from December 22 to January 2, other zonal railways have notified a total of 38 services to the state, which includes 22 special trains by South Central Railway, 8 special trains by South Western Railway and 4 special trains by East Coast Railway.
Keralites based in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad are now finding it difficult to book tickets. The situation is such that tickets are not available for the journey to their home state for Christmas and return after the holidays.
The number of wait-listed passengers in the sleeper class on the Bengaluru-Kanyakumari Island Express from December 22 to 25 is nearly 300. This train sees the biggest rush of passengers.
For the return journey, the wait list in the sleeper class for the Kochuveli-Mysuru train is 202 on January 1. The waitlist has reached 269 for the Island Express. Only a few tickets are available even on the Karnataka Road Transport Corporation buses. The waitlist for the Thiruvananthapuram-Hyderabad Sabari Express is 305 from January 1 to 5. At the same time, the wait list for the Sabari Express to Kerala in sleeper class from December 20 to December 25 has risen above 390.
Though there has been a long-pending demand for more train services to Hyderabad, the Railways have not considered it. After the service f the Kanyakumari-Mumbai CST Jayanti Janta Express was shortened to terminate at Pune, the only other daily train available to Mumbai is the Netravati Express.
The plight of the Mumbai-bound on the Kottayam route
The passengers’ associations were hoping that new daily trains would be introduced to Mumbai through Kottayam since the doubling of the railway line in the sector had been completed. However, nothing has happened in that direction.
The sleeper class waitlist is above 200 in the Chennai-Kottayam sector too. Some tickets are available only in the AC coach of the Tambaram-Ernakulam weekly train via Kollam and Shengottai. There are also some tickets available for the AC coach on the Ernakulam-Tambaram train scheduled for January 2.
Passengers’ associations alleged that the Railways didn't run more trains anticipating the rush during the Christmas-New Year season. They said that it was a failure on the part of the Railways not to have recommended the operation of special trains since its commercial wing had all the details regarding the increased demand for tickets and the rush of passengers.
The demand of the passengers is that either special trains should be operated on an emergency basis or the State government must take steps to run more buses.
Bus charges shoot up
Bengaluru: With only days left for the Christmas holidays, the private bus fare for travel to Kochi from Bengaluru has shot up to Rs 6,000. The fare has risen unusually high for December 22 and 23 when the rush peaks.
For the return journey on December 26, the rate has crossed Rs 5,500. At the same time, tickets are available to Thiruvananthapuram for Rs2,500-Rs 4,000. For the return journey, the ticket rate is Rs 2,000-Rs 4,000. Tickets to Kozhikode are available for Rs 1,000-Rs2,500. For the return journey, the rate is Rs 1,000-Rs 2,500.
Most of the buses charge up to 40% higher rates than the usual fare. The passengers fear that the rates could rise further. The bus operators point out that the rise in the fares was caused by the strict imposition of road tax from November 1 on vehicles registered in other States, except Tamil Nadu, that enter Kerala.
Meanwhile, the fare for non-AC buses on the Chennai-Kochi route has risen to Rs 3,000-Rs 3,500. For AC buses, the rate is Rs 4,070-Rs 4,150.
Airfares too soar high
Nedumbassery: The airlines have increased their fares significantly, capitalising on the Christmas-New Year holiday rush.
The passenger fares have been increased up to four times over the normal rates in the domestic and international sectors.
The fares are much higher for New Year than for Christmas.
Below are the fares to Kochi from important cities around Christmas. (The normal fares are given in brackets).
Delhi – Rs 24,500 to Rs 26,500 (below Rs 10,000)
Bengaluru – Rs 12,500 to Rs 18,000 (Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000)
Mumbai – Rs 14,500 to Rs 28,000 (Rs 8,000)
Chennai – Rs 13,000 to Rs 17,500 (Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000)
Kolkata – Rs 16,500 to Rs 21,000 (Rs 7,000)
Dubai – Rs 16,000 to Rs 31,000 (Rs 8,000)
Abu Dhabi – Rs 16,500 to Rs 31,000 (Rs 8,000)
Sharjah – Rs 20,000 to Rs 32,000 (Rs 8,000)
Doha – Rs 37,000 to Rs 43,500 (Rs 15,000)
Kuwait – Rs 30,000 to Rs 38,000 (Rs 13,000)
Muscat – Rs 17,500 to Rs. 30,500 (Rs 8,500)