Nagpur: So Diwali is coming up and you hadn’t really planned any holiday or trip till now? Welcome to the common man’s world – most people don’t wake up till the last minute. Then children start clamoring for some ‘trip’ somewhere. “Baba! We have holidays – let’s go somewhere! To kaka’s house or mama’s – anywhere, but we don’t want to be in Nagpur…” Wife starts nagging. She wants a change too. So you decide, o.k. let me take them at least to Mumbai;
You have relatives or at least some ‘dildaar’ friends there who will put you up for 3-4 days; you can take your family to Gateway of India, show them the famous Taj Mahal hotel ( only from outside), take them on a tonga ride, take them to Juhu chowpatty, feed them Mumbai bhel and chat – thinking all the while that Nagpur bhel is so much better! – if you are lucky you will get a taxi wall or auto who will show you Amitabh Bachan’s house from outside, or some celebrity’s – what does it matter whose? You are not going to wait around for a ‘darshan’! Yes, speaking of darshan, there should be one visit to Sidhivinayak temple, Worli – where so many Mumbaikars including Amitabh and Aishwarya also trek barefoot on Wednesdays – and to round things off, one visit to Haji Ali, where women are being allowed, by Court orders – to go inside the darga. All these things to do in 4 days will make any family happy and you will be a hero for them.
But wait! How will you all go?
Indian Railways, you said? How – when all trains are booked and overbooked! You will go to some ‘agent’ you reply.
No need for that! Our kind and considerate P.M. who is always thinking of how to benefit other poor Indians – like Him – has already planned a ‘Yojana’ for such times!
Called part of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Yojana schemes’ ( like Swatcha Bharat abhiyan and Make in India ) this is called ‘Suvidha trains’. It is meant specially for travel during summer holidays, Diwali holidays etc. when there is a lot of rush on normal trains and tickets are just not available or you pay through your nose for some ‘doubtful’ tickets from a tout. Now no need to do anything illegal, Indian govt. and Indian Railways are offering you an easy and legal option by running these special trains.
Of course, since it is a special offer (and you were lazy to not book anything two months ago!) you will have to pay ‘extra’.
How much ? You ask. Your family consists of you, your wife and two minor kids, both under 16. One under 10.
Go check on the website Mister! That is also a ‘facility’ that the govt offers, don’t you know? No need to go to station – book tickets online.
O.K. we have done it for you… gone to IRTC and looked for tickets on Suvidha train for 19th October. You are in luck! We have found 4 tickets for you… what is the price you ask?? (Don’t you know one is not supposed to look a gift horse in the face?)
It is Rs. 24, 666/ ONE WAY for your family. And the Suvidha will only take you till Panvel… see, how considerate of the Railways? You can disembark at Panvel and then decide if you want to go to Mumbai or Pune! From Panvel you have both options!
This is no April Fool’s joke – we have screen shot of the offered ‘tickets’ that we located on IRTC for you. This is, as we mentioned, a Diwali gift from the P.M. – you want to call it a joke, your choice… we call it cruelty.
Trains were one option that were left to the ordinary Indians to travel – specially during holidays. Knowing there is a rush at such times, you could count on the Railways to offer special trains – this has been done from the times of Mamata and Lallu Yadav as Railway Ministers, or may be even earlier. The difference is that these special trains often only had ordinary second class, and were cheap.
A ticket for one adult could never be more than Rs. 350/ max…
But now you are being offered a Second A/C ticket. Only catch is you have to shell out Rs. 6000 + ONE WAY. So for the two way journey you have the ‘luxury’ of ‘investing’ Rs. 50,000/
Which middle class Indian – or even an upper middle class – can afford this?
So, if you must travel, go try your luck with some private buses. Go to Pune and then take a bus to Mumbai… tickets there will be hiked up too, but you can always negotiate and try out different options; different bus wallahs, different dates.
With such new Yojanas, trains are out of reckoning for Indians like you… which is the majority.
What is the Nagpur DRM’s take on this??
None, it turns out. What will the poor man say if the Railway Minister, in consultation with the P.M. has decided this?
So the number we were given as P.R.O to DRM replies and says, no this is wrong number. It IS a Railway number, but no one here can talk to you, though it is some Commercial Department’s number. You get another number for DRM.
You call… and you call… there is no response.
But when the web sites say it all, what more can the hapless Divisional Manager Railways really add?!!