Friday, August 03, 2012

India Train Experience and Tips

solo traveling new delhi - jaipur - agra (india) in 1.5 days
may 18-19, 2012 friday to saturday

India train booking without local mobile number

Railway experience has never been this incredible. Control yourself to get on your nerves or else you may not accomplished a true India travel without finding yourself having joyride on this famous Indian-style mode of transportation. The following is based on Pinoy-style observation, no offense for whatever impact would it had be.

1. book your seat in advance (important) - this is very, very critical and as much as possible maximize the 120 days (4 months) allowance before the travel date. As for mine, I booked and confirmed all my 3 train tickets last April 23, 2012 which was less than a month before my travel date. All of them were wait listed status so I don't know yet what will happen next if on the date itself the tickets is still on the same status. The thought of how long will I wait, do I have to force myself in or wait for another departure is playing in my mind after booking. Wait, I cannot afford that because I have only 1.5 days and train travel took 3-6 hours depending on the stops. confirmed seat slot is essential. Here were the status of that 3 tickets I booked from the date of purchase up to travel date;

new delhi old station going to jaipur

sleeper class viewing from AC 2ER going to jaipur

AC 2ER class going to jaipur

New Delhi City (old stn) to Jaipur City (652INR=PHP543)
Train No: 14311 (Ala Hazrat Express)                 Remarks: 4.5 of 5 stars
Travel time (sched): 1140H-1730H (05:50hr)      (actual): 1215H-1755H (05:40hr)
Status during booking: waitlisted # 13              Class: AC 2ER (during booking)
Status during travel date: confirmed @ AC 2ER A1 Seat 34 (upper bank) - received confirmation email the night during my travel date. I have no access on web that time, informed confirmed seat slot through the roaming conductor.
Remarks: This train has 3 class; sleeper, AC 3ER & AC 2ER. aircon is ok, travel is good, time is excellent. Do not choose sleeper as it is for the average citizens, jampacked passengers.

Jaipur City to Agra City (Agra Fort stn) (667INR=PHP556)
Train No: 12308 (Ju Hwh Sperfast)                     Remarks: 1 of 5 stars
Travel time (sched): 0220H-0615H (03:55hr)       (actual): 0410H-0830H (04:20hr)
Status during booking: waitlisted # 20               Class: AC 2ER (during booking)
Status during travel date: still waitlisted (drop to #9), thus, train conductor kicked me out the AC 2ER couch and suggest if I want to be on this train put myself to sleeper area, just anywhere there - received  no confirmation email.
Remarks: This train has 3 class; sleeper, AC 3ER & AC 2ER. This is the real India train adventure. Imagine around that very early in the morning I was in the sleeper area for more than 4 hours, taking a nap while seating and jamming with ordinary Indian citizens, not to mention my seating area is almost 2 meters away from the toilet. Thus, every 30 seconds passer-by bumped my elbow or head while taking a nap. This was the most remarkable on my entire train trip experience. Actually I'm not bothered on how was the experience, this is India so i anticipated things like this. What made me feel disappointed was the 2 hours delayed departure and the very slow movement. This was the moment I lost track on my planned itinerary.

update as of 23-May: an email received confirming that payment on this trip (jaipur-agra) will be refunded in 20 days, credit back confirmed.

Agra City (Agra Cantt stn) to New Delhi City (Nizamuddin stn) (667INR=PHP556)
Train No: 12617 (Mangala Ldweep)                     Remarks: 1 of 5 stars
Travel time (sched): 1018H-1310H (02:52hr)       (actual): 1025H-1355H (03:30hr)
Status during booking: waitlisted # 18                Class: AC 2ER (during booking)
Status during travel date: confirmed @ AC 2ER A1 Seat 16 (upper bank) - received confirmation email 2 days before travel date.
Remarks: This train has 3 class; sleeper, AC 3ER & AC 2ER. aircon is ok, travel is very slow, time is very, very bad. I really hate myself trusting travel sched as I depend on this for my flight going home and now guess what, I missed it :(

AC 2ER class going to jaipur

new delhi old station

jaipur train station early in the morning

sleeper class going to agra fort station

2. Know where exactly your departing station is - I almost missed my 1st train trip because of this mess. My e-ticket stated only Delhi (DLI) but what I did not know is there are 2 Delhi station, old and new one, I just know this when I asked rickshaw driver. I was surprised the old one is still operational. By wild guess, I chose the new one but this made the trip more vicious. Information on the new station told that my train is in old station which is 20 mins away on a very, very fast rickshaw. From red fort to new station, I paid 100INR including tip for driving in haste. From new station to old, I paid another 100INR for bursting the road on time. Now, As I arrived to old station, next to do is to know the platform and the couch area by means of looking around to LED-based bulletin, listening to PA and while emerging myself to the crowd under scorching heat of around 36 deg with heavy backpack. Im just very fortunate I have confirmed seat slot at that time to make a proper rest in exchange to that haggle madness.

3. For waitlisted ticket, go 1st to information - sometimes conductor roam 1st for ticket checking (just what happened on my new delhi-jaipur trip) and sometimes they are already inside the couch and will forcefully kick you out if they found-out you are still waitlisted (just what happened on my jaipu-agra trip). Though I told him why will I stay to sleeper wherein I availed AC 2ER, he just replied bystanders are not allowed to upper class. If I really want to board on this train, he asked me to go to any sleeper class and find my fortune there. Conductors are strict especially in AC 3ER and 2ER area. That is why I repeat it again, confirmed seat slot on booking is recommended.

AC 2ER class going to nizamuddin station (new delhi)

AC 2ER class going to nizamuddin station (new delhi)

4. Be attentive to announcements - there are 2 ways every station has to offer the latest update on all passengers; by means of LED-based board and Passenger Announcement call. Look and listen carefully to this both and have it compare to be able to ensure accuracy of your departure. Check also what platform you will aboard and the train number embedded outside of the class couch.

5. For vanity concerns, choose only AC 2ER class - for every area there are 6 bank combination (upper, lower and side). design is ergonomic, aircon is very operational, with 110V outlet. They will provide 1 pillow and comforter. Choose seats with odd numbers as this is on lower bank with side table and window. If you really want to feel the tide, then go for sleeper class, wish you all the best comforts on your 3-6 hours travel.

6. Ask the locals for your arrival station - there is no automatic reminder nor train crew to tell that you are on your destination. Ask neighbors politely to please inform you if your station is approaching.

7. Walk-out, sightsee around and feel the locals onboard  - locals feel appreciated if you are roaming around giving smile to them and give a little chit-chat, one of the lighter side of being a tourist, especially being alone.

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