BENGALURU: The special trains between Bengaluru and Mysuru that was changed to Chamundi Express timings, to suit those commuting for work between the cities is now running with an average of 60 per cent occupancy.
However, the non-acceptance of season tickets and the maximum booking limit of 12 reserved tickets per month mandated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has made the commute a costly affair.
At present, 6 pairs of COVID-19 special trains connect the two cities with all of them only permitting reserved ticket holders on board. The daily train pairs are Hampi Special (Train No. 06581/06582); Golgumbaz Special (Train No. 06535/06536); RajyaRani COVID Spl (Train no. 16557/16558) and KSR Bengaluru-Mys Special (Train No. 06503/06504) Chamundi Exp timings).
The KSR Bengaluru-Mangaluru Central via Mysuru Special (No. 06517/06518) runs thrice a week and Jaipur-Mysuru Express (02975/02976) via Bengaluru is a bi-weekly.
S Yogendra, Rail activist and member of the Mysuru Grahakara Parishat said that since tickets can only be booked through the reservation, some relaxation needs to be given on its portal by the IRCTC as thousands commute daily to work between the two destinations.
“The IRCTC permits only 12 tickets to be booked online for IRCTC accounts linked to Aaadhaar cards while it is only 6 tickets in case of those which are not linked. So, only a maximum of 12 tickets or six round trips can be booked online. On other days, one needs to queue up at Passenger Reservation Systems to book them which is time-consuming during peak hours,” he pointed out.
Moreover, the cost works out to Rs 80 just for a one-way trip as compared to Rs 525 a month on Regular or Express trains or Rs 750 a month on Superfast train with a season pass. The cost per ticket one way is Rs 35 on passenger train, Rs 80 on Superfast and Rs 65 on Mail/Express trains. Except for Special trains, the other categories have not been operational since last week of March.
“It made sense to have the reserved ticket policy earlier since the government was actively tracking primary and secondary contacts of those infected by COVID-19. But, that has been stopped now. Garment workers and many in the organised sector now spend up to 30 per cent of their earnings on commuting,” Yogendra said.
Many from stations of Mandya, Ramangara and Channapatna use the trains to reach their work spot in Bengaluru. Priya Shetty, Senior PRO, Mysuru Railway Division told The New Indian Express, “The occupancy has really improved for the Special train that runs to Chamundi Express timings. From single-digit figures when we launched it in May, it has gone up to 60 per cent since August. On Mondays, it crosses 80 per cent occupancy and has even reached up to 99 per cent ridership,” she said.
Asked about the possibility of allowing season tickets onboard the special trains, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Bengaluru Division, A N Krishna Reddy said, “The Ministry in consultation with the Railway Board is increasing number of special trains to cater to the requirements of commuters and might consider this in future.”