Plane truth: Trains fare better
By Nandini Chandrashekar, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Frequent short haul air travellers from Bangalore seem to be preferring the train, discouraged by the distance and time taken to travel to the new Bengaluru International Airport (BIA).
South-Western Railway officials here have noticed a great increase in passengers notably on the Shatabdi trains running between Chennai and Bangalore. Booking on these trains have been steady at 100 per cent beginning from the month of May.
Five trains ply daily between Bangalore and Chennai at present, excluding a weekend train. While most of these trains do experience heavy traffic, the Shatabdi has been facing unprecedented rush for the past two months and the trend appears set to continue.
Bangalore Divisional Railway Manager Akhil Agarwal told Deccan Herald that booking had increased significantly on Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi-Trivandrum routes.
“We are going to observe this for a couple of more months and if the trend continues, then we will either add coaches to the existing trains or add a new train on the route.”
Shatabdi trains at present are running with seven coaches and these are likely to be augmented to 10 coaches.
Officials are still keenly watching the other sectors like Hyderabad and Kochi. There has been a definite increase in bookings on the Hyderabad route as well, but a senior railway official pointed out that it could also be due to the introduction of the Garib Rath train in the month of February.
The route towards Kochi and Trivandrum is a busy sector any time of the year and it has been difficult to establish the reason.
Travel agents have no doubts whatsoever, about the decline and the reasons for it. Rakesh P of Jagadish Air Travels admitted that they had a staggering 65-70 per cent drop in air ticket bookings to Chennai after the opening of the new airport. His clients clearly expressed their unwillingness to travel the long distance to the airport for a 30-minute flight.
He also said a considerable number of his clients who flew to Chennai to visit the consulates now prefers Shatabdi or a bus. In fact, so popular has been the demand for buses, that the agency started bus bookings as well to keep in tune with the customer requirements.
Another travels, Classic Air Travels, has also experienced a 50 per cent drop in their bookings to Chennai.
Interestingly enough, the passenger traffic to Hubli and Mangalore has fluctuated slightly, but nothing to indicate decreased air travel.
The reason, says Rakesh, could be because the number of travellers on this route have always been less, due to high costs and the ones that did travel could well afford it and would continue doing so.
Buses to Chennai seem to be faring pretty well considering that this is considered to be a slump season.
Phanindra Sama, CEO of redbus.in, the online portal offering reservations for 300 bus companies, said that sale of tickets to Chennai had jumped by about 35 per cent.
The increase was across all kinds of buses as the travel time is only five hours.
This time advantage seems to have encouraged software companies, who send their employees to obtain visas, to take the bus.
“There is a definite cost and time advantage to taking the bus to Chennai these days,” he added.
Source : The Deccan Herald