I was blogging mainly about my cheap travels in the Indian railway. So someone was asking me how do I plan these trips. Well it is not a secret or anything. I am happy to share what I know. I just use a couple of websites and compare various options.
I will give an example and try to explain. If you were reading my previous blog post, you must be knowing that I was travelling from my home town to Chennai. That was my previous post about. So now I have my boarding station and destination for planning my journey. Now I will open this favourite website of mine.
When you go to the site, at the top left corner, you can find three boxes. Type your 'from station' and 'to station' or if you have any requirement of going via a certain station, there is an option for that too. After you provide the required information, you will find a few train options showing up. Even if there isn't a train from your 'from station' or 'to station', it will give you options from or to the nearest station available. So it's a great tool to plan even if you are not very sure about the places that you are going to visit. So make sure to check the from and to station always.
Click on a particular train, then It will show more details about the train timings, ticket charges etc. You can check the time-table, current position of the train, seat availability, fare chart etc.
In my case, the direct journey from my home town to Chennai will take more than 13 hours and I am planning to take a general coach rather than reservation coach. Because of the huge population of India, long journey without reserving a seat is not so much fun. Unless you are on a tight time schedule and there are no other better options left, you can try a General compartment long train ride. I have done it in the past, a couple of times and I must say they were pretty interesting journeys.
Now I need to split my long journey into shorter ones, as I am travelling slow and have plenty of time to spend. I have to do a little research now. So I check Google maps. I can find Coimbatore as a city in the midway. Now I will go back and check my train options in India Rail Info. Yes, it solves my problem! It's only a 7 hour journey from my home town to Coimbatore and 8 hours journey from Coimbatore to Chennai. That's how I plan my train journey.
Now I need to ensure it is the cheap option. So I will look for all the possible Passenger trains. These type of trains are the cheapest one and also the slowest ones with plenty of stops in between. There are faster trains like Express, superfast, Janshadabdi, AC superfast etc, they are faster and a bit less cheaper than passenger train.
Distance : 275 km
Passenger : 35 stops, 8 hours, 50 rupees
Express : 6-16 stops, 6 hours, 110 rupees
Superfast : 4-16 stops, 6 hours, 125 rupees
Now that we have found our cheaper train, we can start thinking about a comfortable journey. Comfortable journey obviously means to find a seat for the entire journey. In a place like India, almost all trains, at all times run full.( Even though they say they are not making any profit and increases the train fare every single time! ) So a sure shot way to get a seat is to board the train from the originating station. And there is a sneaky trick described in the previous post to get inside the train even before it reaches the station's platform. If you want a seat plan accordingly so that you can board from the train from the originating station or from the early stations. In my case I got in the train from the originating station and got a seat. I was able to sleep too, not a proper good sleep though.
If you can find a free space on the over head luggage space, go climb up there and maybe you can sleep there like a boss. If you can't still find a seat, ask the people where they are going to get down at and reserve a seat for yourself and hang around there till they get down.
Else there is an option to upgrade your tickets by going to the Travelling Ticket Examiner. Once you pay a certain amount, you can upgrade yourself to the sleeper coach depending the availability of seats.
So that's how I plan my short and spontaneous train journeys. Well during packing Don't forget to carry some interesting books with you, as you are going to get a seat and have a comfortable journey. Also don't forget to try the Indian railway delicacies, especially the Cutlet. Because it was highly recommended by food and travel addicted fellow bloggers like A regular Indian girl! and Saya .
[ PS : If you have stomach upset after trying these delicacies , these two people will be responsible :p ]
Well Happy planning and Safe travels.
If you know any other way of planning and booking tickets, a better way to travel in Indian railway, please share your knowledge. All your comments and suggestions are highly appreciated 🙂