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Holiday bug yet to bite the Railways

APSRTC and private operators go into overdrive, but special trains haven’t been announced yet

With thousands of undecided people making last-minute travel plans for the Dasara festival, the APSRTC and private bus operators have gone into overdrive announcing special services. However, the Waltair Division of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) is yet to make any announcement regarding special trains from Visakhapatnam for the festival.

The decline in COVID-19 positive cases is expected to see more people travelling to their hometowns or to holiday destinations this year compared to 2020, when the virus had forced people to drop their travel plans.

The peak demand is between Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai, apart from Vijayawada. It is a different matter that the Railways is operating regular trains as ‘specials’ in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A look at the bookings of the ‘regular’ special trains running between Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad reveals that most of the trains on this route are already in high demand and the same is the case with those operating between Visakhapatnam and Chennai.

“This is despite the higher fares being charged on these ‘regular’ special trains. Only reserved accommodation is being given on these trains and even in the few ‘general’ coaches attached to some of the trains, the passengers have to invariably reserve a seat at a higher cost,” says Ambati Sannibabu, a frequent traveller between Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad.

“The fare structure is beyond our comprehension. South Central Railway (SCR) is running ‘Dasara specials’ to Narsapur and Kakinada but not to Visakhapatnam despite the high demand. ECoR has not made any announcement on Dasara specials so far, which shows the indifference of the officials to the demand,” he says.

“ECoR officials can at least augment the 08561/62 Visakhapatnam-Kacheguda-Visakahpatnam express, which has 21 coaches with three more coaches to cater to the increased demand during the festival. Similarly, the Janmabhoomi Express and Visakhaptnam-LTT Mumbai express, which have 22 coaches, can be augmented with two additional coaches each. The UDAY Express to Vijayawada, which was stopped due to COVID-19, can be revived to meet the festival rush,” says Mr. Sannibabu.

“The fares are comparatively high but the trains are running on time and I am satisfied on that count,” says Chamana Srinivasa Rao, a resident of Madhuranagar, who travelled to Hyderabad and Vijayawada on a couple of occasions in the recent past.

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