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Indian Railways Are No More Popular Mode of Transport in India

Airlines are soon to replace railways as a popular mode of conveyance as the number of passengers traveling via air will exceed the AC passengers in 2019-2020

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Indian Railways
Indian Railways. Wikimedia Commons
  • Indian Railways get aggressive competition from Airways, as Airways to become popular mode of transportation in 2019-2020
  • Augmenting the pricing and capacity can save the downfall of Indian Railways
  • Indian Railways fares not as unfair as people make them out to be

New Delhi, August 03, 2017: Reportedly, the aviation sector is said to grow in 2019-2020 as the Indian Railways prices continue surging. Recently in a blueprint laid out by Indian Railway, it was mentioned that the number of passengers traveling by air would exceed AC-class passengers in 2019-20.

Indian railways and domestic airlines carried about 145 million and 97.8 million passengers respectively between December 2015 and November 2016. With a projected 20% growth in air passengers and 5% growth in rail AC-class passengers between December 2015-November 2016 and 2019-20, it is estimated that air passengers will outnumber rail AC-class passengers soon.

As the Indian railways surged the price on the base fares of Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Dhuranto trains last year giving leverage to the aviation sector. The base fare of these railways was raised on the basis of selling capacity as recommended on Railway Board formula, the base fares would increase by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of train berths sold.

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While the railway’s fares went remarkably high, Air India announced that the last minute fares won’t be raised making the last minute booking before take-offs at par with AC rail fare. All the airlines have followed similar fare patterns and therefore reducing airfares, the shift of 2AC and 1AC rail passengers to Airlines have increased remarkably since. Leading to this alarming state of affairs for Indian Railways, 3AC still remain unaffected because even the Tatkal bookings are lower than the last minute air fares.

Can Indian Railways still beat the growing Airline Traffic? Click To Tweet

The two factors by which Indian Railways can still gain traction and recovery by 2020 are through augmenting capacity and pricing. Although Indian railway has been leveraging its track capacity at a rate of 7km per day since 2015, it cannot be augmented to a level that can stop the growing aviation sector from mangling the rail AC passenger segment by 2019-20. Hence, Indian railways can hardly do anything till 2020 when both dedicated freight corridors are commissioned, relieving sizeable capacity for railways.

Pricing and travel time, are two most important factors that can affect the passenger segment of Indian railways. Talking about pricing, the railway pricing is not as simplistic as it is made out to be. The costing of air carriers are significantly more than 1AC/2AC rail and considering that more than half air tickets are sold within two weeks the departure, despite the flexi-rates, there is a huge difference between the railways and air fares. However, the air fare for tickets that were booked at least two weeks before the travel day may be in the range of 1AC/2AC rail fares. Taking the price factor in regard Indian Railways are doing well and should have no concerns on this front.

Also Read: “Better than London” free WiFi on Indian Railways stations! RailTel and Google are making it happen at 400 locations

While travel time is of the essence to the passengers and not the authorities, and the only alternative to combat the huge difference of time saved in airlines compared to railways, should not be bullet trains. While major routes like Delhi-Bombay have access to electric tracks and serve under “A” category of railways, they still need to up the speed of express trains which run at the maximum speed of 160kmph/130kmph. The speed of these trains can be increased up to 110kmph which 80% of the maximum speed, there will be a lot of time that could be saved benefiting the 6PM-8AM trains which do not enter the slab of productive hours.

Indian railways can tweak their options to gain the leverage over the aviation sector, which is said to overtake in 2019-2020.

-Prepared by Nivedita Motwani. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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‘Delhi Metro Cruelly Killed my ‘Achhe Din” : Here is why Passengers are dumping the popular mode of travel

The author shares her take on shifting to Delhi from Kolkata and her experience with the Delhi Metro

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Delhi Metro
Delhi Metro. Wikimedia

– By Somrita Ghosh

New Delhi, November 5, 2017 : Delhi Metro cruelly killed my “acche din”.

Metro fares have been doubled in just four months, forcing me to give up my favorite mode of transport and take to crowded DTC buses.

Besides putting the new fares beyond my budget, I have also been stripped off the safety of travelling in the Metro. And I am not the only one.

My biggest shock came two days after the latest Metro fare hike. I commute daily between Green Park in south Delhi and Noida Sector 16 where I work.

As I punched my smart card while leaving the Sector 16 station, my heart skipped a beat — Rs 37 had been deducted from my card.

By the time I reached my office, the mental calculation was already done. I realized every month I would have to spend double of what I was shelling out only five months ago if I wanted to use the Delhi Metro.

When the year began, I was spending Rs 18 on my Metro ride — one way. The Metro then hiked the fares and my one-way cost shot up to Rs 27. The latest hike had taken it to Rs 37!

This was hard for me to digest. The sudden hike of almost Rs 20, that too one way, was surely going to painfully pinch my wallet.

When I landed in Delhi five years ago, my friends advised me to avail the Metro, not just because it is safe for women but comfortable too, never mind the crushing rush during peak hours.

Most important, as I realized very soon, the Metro was affordable. It was so cheap that while an auto-rickshaw would charge me a minimum of Rs 25 from my home to the nearest Metro station, the Metro charged me only Rs 18 all the way from south Delhi to Noida in Uttar Pradesh. This was too good to be true.

Since I came from Kolkata, where the minimum Metro fare was only Rs 4 and the maximum Rs 12, Delhi Metro initially seemed costly.

But I realized the full story in no time once I started using the Delhi Metro. The infrastructure, service and overall facilities provided by Delhi Metro were far better compared to Kolkata.

Delhi Metro offers free WiFi, its stations have coffee shops and the bigger ones even host fast food chains. Travel is hassle-free despite the odd technical snags that hit the Blue Line that I use.

But suddenly charging a salaried person like me Rs 40 more, or Rs 1,200 a month, just because the Metro needs to finance itself better is something I cannot appreciate.

Like numerous others, I have changed my mode of transport. It is now the DTC buses. The DTC’s frequency may not match the Metro’s and DTC rides can be bumpy too, not to talk of unending traffic jams. But do I have a choice?

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Somrita Ghosh of IANS. She can be contacted at somrita.g@ians.in)

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British Airways’ Costly IT Collapse makes it Rethink the Strategy

The company was left counting the cost of the disruption, both in terms of a one-off impact to its profit and the longer term damage to its reputation

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People wait with their luggage at a rebooking zone at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, Britain May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

– by Alistair Smout

LONDON, May 29, 2017: British Airways (BA) said it would take steps to ensure there was no repeat of a computer system failure that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend and turned into a public relations disaster.

BA had been forced to cancel all its flights from Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, and Gatwick on Saturday after a power supply problem disrupted its operations worldwide and also hit its call centers and website.

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The airline was returning to normal on Monday, planning to run more than 95 percent of flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick, with only a handful of short-haul flights canceled.

BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz said the root of the problem, which also affected passengers trying to fly into Britain, had been a power surge on Saturday morning which hit BA’s flight, baggage and communication systems. It was so strong it also rendered the back-up systems ineffective, he said.

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“Once the disruption is over, we will carry out an exhaustive investigation into what caused this incident, and take measures to ensure it never happens again,” Cruz said.

Over the weekend, some stranded passengers curled up under blankets on the floor or slumped on luggage trolleys, images that played prominently online and in newspapers.

“Apologizes all well and good but not enough. BA has lost another loyal customer #disgraceful,” tweeted Tom Callway, who had been due to fly to Budapest.

The company was left counting the cost of the disruption, both in terms of a one-off impact to its profit and the longer term damage to its reputation.

Check-in information boards are displayed at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, Britain May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Spanish-listed shares of parent company IAG <ICAG.L>, which also owns carriers Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, dropped 2.8 percent on Monday after the outage. The London-listed shares did not trade because of a public holiday.

Flight compensation website Flightright.com said that with around 800 flights canceled at Gatwick and Heathrow on Saturday and Sunday, BA was looking at having to pay around 61 million euros ($68 million) in compensation under EU rules. That does not include the cost of reimbursing customers for hotel stays.

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BA would fully honor its compensation obligations, Cruz said. Of the 75,000 passengers who missed out on flights, around two-thirds would have been flown to their destinations by the end of Monday, he added.

COST CUTTING

BA has been cutting costs to respond to competition on short-haul routes from Ryanair <RYA.I> and easyJet <EZJ.L> and recently faced criticism for starting to charge passengers for their in-flight snacks.

Ireland’s Ryanair was quick to seize on the marketing opportunity, tweeting “Should have flown Ryanair” with a picture of the ‘Computer says no’ sketch from the TV series “Little Britain” to poke fun at BA.

Ryanair said it had seen a spike in bookings over the weekend but gave no further details.

The GMB union said that BA’s IT systems had shortcomings after they made a number of staff redundant and shifted their work to India in 2016.

“This could have all been avoided. BA in 2016 made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India,” Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for Aviation, said.

Cruz rejected the union criticism.

“They’ve all been local issues around a local data center, which has been managed and fixed by local resources,” he told Sky News.

Several passengers complained about a lack of information from BA staff at the airport. Others said their luggage had been lost.

The airline said it was working to get reunite passengers with their luggage after many items were left at Heathrow over the weekend, although staff on Twitter warned this “could take some time”.

While other airlines have been hit by computer problems, the scale and length of BA’s troubles were unusual.

Delta Air Lines Inc <DAL.N> canceled thousands of flights and delayed many others last August after an outage hit its computer systems.

Last month, Germany’s Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> and Air France <AIRF.PA> suffered a global system outage which briefly prevented them from boarding passengers. (Reuters)

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin, Costas Pitas in London and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir)

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SriLankan Airlines to add 3 new Indian cities Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Visakhapatnam to its network from July

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SriLankan_Airlines, Wikimedia

New Delhi, May 13, 2017: SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of the island nation, will add three southern India cities — Hyderabad, Coimbatore, and Visakhapatnam — to its network from July, a statement said here on Saturday.

According to the statement, the flights will commence from July 8.

“The introduction of these new routes, along with the scheduled frequency increases in its Delhi and Mumbai services, will see SriLankan operating over 120 flights a week to 14 cities, thus becoming the carrier that serves the highest number of points in India,” the airline said.

Currently, the airline serves key Indian cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum, Kochi, Madurai, Varanasi and Bodh Gaya, and will introduce four additional frequencies to its daily services from Delhi and Mumbai in July.

The statement said the new routes will be serviced by Airbus 320/321 aircraft.

“These new routes are introduced with the aim of providing passengers with added convenience, seamless travel and easy onward connectivity from Colombo,” it said.

SriLankan Airlines is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance, being the first airline from the Indian sub-Continent to join any global airline alliance. (IANS)