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Old 29th April 2009, 15:17   #61
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While Volvo has changed long distance bus travel in India, I was witness to the Sharma Mercedes Bus (from the 1st set of 6 buses handed over) accident which was again the bus ramming into a stationery lorry, in most cases there is a very thin line between aggressive driving and insane driving.

Most of the Volvo drivers undertake overtaking maneouvre as though they drive an auto, cutting across lanes. I can think of atleast half a dozen instances of Volvos ramming into stationery vehicles over the past couple of years.
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Old 29th April 2009, 15:37   #62
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All the private operators between states operate as Tourist Buses (tour operators) with a permit that in layman terms says i am taking these folks for a tour of the other state and getting them back. None of them have a permit to transport passengers between states. Only government buses are allowed to do that.

Thats why you see tickets printed without any proper details and mostly these are taken away from the passenger and are given a pass or something. If you insist they do hand it over to you though. But it is not a travel ticket per se and cannot be challenged in court as a "ticket". You are a tourist going to a place and coming back.

Anyone from the the tour operators here who can clarify the details.
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Old 29th April 2009, 16:05   #63
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Always used KSRTC Airvath Volvo for my Pune-Mangalore trips.

* Even managed to book tickets online on their website, which for some strange reason, works only after 9pm.
* The bus crew are courteous,
* Rest stop at decent restaurants along the way - the ones I can remember are Natraj near Pune/Satara and Kamat Upachar near Ankola. The restaurants let you bring your own food.
* Usual bottle of mineral water and "air" sickness bag provided .

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Old 29th April 2009, 16:24   #64
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The operators will do whatever they want , but how many of us has stood - up against such acts .

I have seen many a times ; we leave these incidents because no one wants to run around it . . . we all are very busy .
This applied to me too when I had a very bad experience . I had to attend the next days official meeting and I had no other choice but to listen to these guys .

We get into forums and discuss this for hours - but how many of these operators see the posts here .

Can we do something more . . . atleast when we are all free ? ? ?
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Old 30th April 2009, 17:02   #65
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Originally Posted by Spitfire View Post
Thats why you see tickets........ taken away from the passenger and are given a pass or something.
I have traveled across border quite a number of times, and I have booked tickets from different agents, different areas and sometimes from the tour operators main office.

The tickets are collected and you are issued a boarding pass when you board the bus, usually this issue is not done at an agents place, but at the Tour bus operators regional/local office.

You buy a ticket from an agent paying him Rs XX. (XX = Ticket cost + Commission). Now the how does the Tour bus operator gets this amount?This is done by exchanging the tickets that you deposit there with the agent.
So as the Agent gets the ticket that he issued you and he hads over the amount (Amount = XX - Comission) to the Tour Bus operator. The ticket that is collected from you acts as a recipt.

This is the reason why they collect the Ticket and issue you a boarding pass / slip in the bus.

Moral: Book tickets from the Tour operators office and you are entitled to ask for a Rs20-30 discount. You have to ASK! and you do get it most of the time.
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Old 2nd May 2009, 12:26   #66
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Moral: Book tickets from the Tour operators office and you are entitled to ask for a Rs20-30 discount. You have to ASK! and you do get it most of the time.

What I have noticed - every agent has a "quota" - the seats and nos. are specified to him. SOme seats are reserved for booking through the operator directly. If anybody's quota is full and needs extra seats, or if a customer asks for specified seats, (like seat no. 1 from a guy who is allotted seat no 15), the customer would not get the discount, because this swap would require multiple phone calls / confirmations, and thus result in overheads.

And to the query about why are interstate buses operating as "tour operators"? Here is why.

1. Private buses DO get interstate permits. So, being a private bus operator is not the problem.

2. Most national highways are "nationalised routes" - means bus permits are issued only to state transport undertakings.

3. Having a permit means the bus has to enter EVERY bus stand in EVERY TOWN on the route. On way to Coimbatore from Trichur, this translates to at least 4 (Vadakkencherry, Alathur, Coyalmanna, Palakkad). On way from Ekm to Trichur, there would be at least 10 bus stands. I can reel have quite a few bus stands constructed by the respective panchayath / villages just for sake of collecting tolls. One place near Kaduthuruthy, in Kottayam district and KoLLapully, near Shornur, are just two. In Kannur (city), buses have to enter two bus stands, and pay tolls at both.

4. Private buses would have to go through non NH roads too (example - buses on Ernakulam Shertallai route have go off the NH 47 at two stretches - more than doubling the running time.

5. Permits are issued (usually) at district level offices. For each district through which a bus has to pass, the permit has to be "countersigned" by each district transport office. Think of the formalities, paper work and - yes - the bribes. My guesstimate is 2k per RTO.

6. For inter state permits, in addition to the counter signatures, the operator has to obtain clearance from the "state transport authority". Again, paperwork, delays, bribes. Every thing at a rate befitting a "state" authority.

7. Not sure about the taxes though.

So after all these formalities, you still do not get to ply on the shortest route. And passengers have to bear with the bus having to enter each and every bus stand in route.

Would still want to travel in a private bus with a permit to operate as a route bus?

And here is the other side. Why are these "tour operators" operating in the first place? Because there are people who need to travel, no?

Face the reality - there are routes like Mangalore / Kochi, which is connected by - at least 7 trains daily. Chennai - Kochi is connected by 4 daily trains. B'lore cochin is connected by 3 trains. Still, passengers have to depend on road. Trains are often choc a bloc full.

For the cynics, here is the train list:-

Ml'lore Kochi - (1) Parasuram (2) Kurla - TVM netravati exp (3) Nizamuddin - Ekm (mangala) exp. (4) maveli exp (5) Malabar exp (6) Tvm - M'lore "kannur" exp. (7) at least one weekly train on every day of the week. (eg. gandhidham).

Chennai - Kochi:- (1) "Madras Mail" exp. (2) Chennai / TVC Superfast exp. (3) Chennai Alleppey exp. (4) Dhanbad / tata - alleppey exp.

B'lore - Kochi - (1) "Island" (2) EKM - B'lore exp. (3) B'lore - EKM "Intercity".
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Old 2nd May 2009, 15:51   #67
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In the recent accident, according to Malayala Manorama, there were only 19 pax (I guess it was because it was a weekday). That luckily helped reduce the deaths/injuries I guess.

As for the trains between Bangalore and Cochin.

Island express is better renamed as the Kerala passenger or something similar keeping in mind the number of stops it has. Intercity express is a day train (extension of the former coimbatore intercity) which is best avoided altogether. Interestingly this train has regular "reserved" sleeper coaches for which you pay the same as the night trains. Do not book on this train in sleeper class as it is a monumental waste of money , since short distance pax having unreserved sleeper class tickets have unlimited access to the sleeper coaches (TTE usally disappears after his one time visit) even if the coach is full of people wh are travelling between Bangalore and Ernakulam and who have booked upto one month in advance. In short on peak dates you will end up sharing your reserved seat with an average of two other unreseved pax. And being a day train there is no restriction on beggars/urchins/vendors and what not..........


Of the three trains , the only good one is the 'EKM-B'lre" exp which is not a daily train but does operate on Sunday evenings from Ernakulam. Good thing about this one is it is a night train with limited stops leaving Ernakulam at 5 PM and then stops only at Alwaye, Trichur and Palghat before entering Tamil Nadu. Most of the daily commuters on short distance sectors do not take this train because of the limited stops and also because the EKM-Kannur express leaves 30 minutes before this train.

Disdvantages are a very early arrival at Bangalore (Cantonment at 4 AM and City station at 4.30). Even then it is good value for money as fares are very cheap.

By the way not many are aware of the minimum sped which is required for a train to be classified as SUPERFAST in Indian Railways and for which a separate superfast supplement is to be paid . It is a mind boggling 55 KM/hr (not a joke!). Even the Chennai- BLR Shatabdis average only 72 km/hr.
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Old 6th May 2009, 13:26   #68
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Originally Posted by TKMCE View Post
By the way not many are aware of the minimum sped which is required for a train to be classified as SUPERFAST in Indian Railways and for which a separate superfast supplement is to be paid . It is a mind boggling 55 KM/hr (not a joke!). Even the Chennai- BLR Shatabdis average only 72 km/hr.
It is not "Minimum Speed" but "Minimum average speed". Average is a very important word here, since it does not relate to what speed you actually drive at. Trains in India are permitted to travel at 110kmph max on most sections, while some sections do allow speeds up to 130 kmph (Delhi-Agra being the only section in India to allow 150 kmph). The Maximum speed of conventional coaching stock in India is only 110kmph.

Any increases beyond this would require massive infrastructure upgrade, which is surely a distant dream in India.

Maintaining an average speed of 55kmph is not a joke given the traffic conditions that IR sees. To average 72kmph, the Shatabdis have to ensure that they keep running at 110kmph from Bangalore to Jolarpet - even here, there are speed restrictions of 70kmph through the ghats between Mulanur and Jolarpet. Every stop - whether scheduled or unscheduled - would eat into its average speed. There is no way that a Loco Pilot could overspeed, since the speed at which he drives is continuously recorded and is analysed at the end of every 'trip'.

I am sure regular drivers would appreciate the difference between "speed" and "Average speed".
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Old 6th May 2009, 23:38   #69
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binaiks

As a passenger (not as a railway enthusiast) I cannot care less about the difference between "minimum speed" and "minimum average speed" . As a passenger all I care about is how long it takes for IR to carry me from Point A to Point B. That is all - plain and simple!!!

To put things in further perspective, I first travelled between Trivandrum and Pune in the Jayanthi Janatha express (The same train which now runs as the Mumbai Cape express) when it took 41 hours between Trivandrum and Pune. Now 30 years later, the same train with almost no deivation in the route takes just half an hour less. Is this the technology leap IR is capable of? (Speeding up 30 minutes in 30 years on a 1800 km route). I believe not!!!

Massive infrastructure upgrades are not a distant dream in India! If there is a will there is the way! What the Brits couldnt achieve (or were not interested in achieving)IR did in the case of Konkan Railway where we overcame a lot of infrastructural challenges. 30 years back , Mumbai-Pune highway was a nightmare! Now we have a top class expressway!!!


Coming back to the topic in question, the Volvos, that is advancement for you! Bus travel time is cut by atleast three hours from the pre-volvo days between Bangalore and Cochin! Now here is the difference! We pay more for Volvo than the regular bus but the difference in fare is almost always justified by the TANGIBLE difference in the product. This is not the case wit the SUPERFAST TRAINS of Indian Railways. More often than not, the "average speed" falls below the measly 55 km/hr for which IR charges a supplement. Now this is adding insult to injury! Paying SUPERFAST supplements for 55lm/hr "average speeds" is itself a joke. But when you realise that half the time , you are paying this money for nothing (since because of the regular delays, IR cannot keep up even this speed a half the time, then it is an insult!!!

All I can say it is a sad state of affairs - we can send a man to space, send ship loads of people to Antarctica every year, but still should pride ourself that we are managing to run so many trains at an average of 55-60 km/hr!!!
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Old 7th May 2009, 14:40   #70
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Coming back to the topic in question, the Volvos, that is advancement for you! Bus travel time is cut by atleast three hours from the pre-volvo days between Bangalore and Cochin! Now here is the difference! We pay more for Volvo than the regular bus but the difference in fare is almost always justified by the TANGIBLE difference in the product. This is not the case wit the SUPERFAST TRAINS of Indian Railways. More often than not, the "average speed" falls below the measly 55 km/hr for which IR charges a supplement. Now this is adding insult to injury! Paying SUPERFAST supplements for 55lm/hr "average speeds" is itself a joke. But when you realise that half the time , you are paying this money for nothing (since because of the regular delays, IR cannot keep up even this speed a half the time, then it is an insult!!!

1. My point is - the alternative to interstate buses, the Indian Railways, is a miserable failure on several sectors. I guess we all agree on this.

2. I think s/f trains certainly give you an advantage. But even between s/f and even express trains, running times do vary. Look at this timing between Ernakulam and Kannur ( I have to do this weekly run):-

Mangala Lakshadweep s/f exp - 6 hrs 20 min (dep 13 hrs, arrival 19.30 Hrs)

Netravathi express - (NOT s/f) 6 hrs 55 mins (dep 14.15, arr 2110)

Cannanore exp (non s/f) 7 hrs 15 mins (0.55 ex-EKM North, arr 8.10 hrs)

Malabar exp - 6 hrs 50 mins - (dep 23.45, arr 6.35)

Intercity - 6 hours and 5 minutes!!! (less than s/f dep 6.45, arrival 12.50)
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Old 7th May 2009, 16:21   #71
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Is this the technology leap IR is capable of? (Speeding up 30 minutes in 30 years on a 1800 km route). I believe not!!!
You talked about a 30 minute advancement that the railways 'could only achieve' in 41 years. The said train was speeded up by 3 hours a couple of years back - only to be reversed due to passenger pressure. Passengers want the dirt cheap train ride and at the same time cannot adjust to time changes.

The railways are surely interested in speeding up trains. But the "super educated" mallu (which I too am) would not agree to a change in timing. You want speed as well as convenient timing at the same place - which in many cases are just not possible.

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Originally Posted by TKMCE View Post
Massive infrastructure upgrades are not a distant dream in India! If there is a will there is the way! What the Brits couldnt achieve (or were not interested in achieving)IR did in the case of Konkan Railway where we overcame a lot of infrastructural challenges. 30 years back , Mumbai-Pune highway was a nightmare! Now we have a top class expressway!!!
Where is the "upgrade" here sir? Both are newly built infrastructure. You can build "bullet train routes" in India. What I said was an "upgrade" is not possible due to political reasons. We keep electing the same 'corrupt-to-the-core' politicians every year, who is not ready to dare make changes.

Konkan railway, which you claim as an achievement, was built to handle speeds up to 160kmph. According to norms, a line fit for 160kmph should be fenced on both sides in order to ensure that cattle does not stray on to railway lines. However, KR was built without any of these considerations. The geographical features of Konkan region is not conductive to run trains at 160kmph, and constant occurances of landslide and loose soil has now forced KR to speed down to 120kmph. The Jolarpet-Erode section itself is cleared for 130kmph, and you so-called achievement is still languishing at 120kmph!

Mumbai-Pune is still a nightmate - try driving a car at night, and then make a comment on whether the expressway is "world-class" or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TKMCE View Post
More often than not, the "average speed" falls below the measly 55 km/hr for which IR charges a supplement. Now this is adding insult to injury! Paying SUPERFAST supplements for 55lm/hr "average speeds" is itself a joke. But when you realise that half the time , you are paying this money for nothing (since because of the regular delays, IR cannot keep up even this speed a half the time, then it is an insult!!!
A train qualifies to be a superfast when it averages a speed of 55kmph - including all halts - when calculated for its end-to-end journey. That is, 55kmph need not be achived between any two points, but between its origin and Destination.

You have been constantly trying to prove that the train should 'run' at 55kmph to be a super fast. I agree that the entire superfast funda of the railways is flawed and it needs to be revamped asap. But, please stop trying to prove that 55kmph is the speed and not the average speed.

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2. I think s/f trains certainly give you an advantage. But even between s/f and even express trains, running times do vary. Look at this timing between
A train qualifies to be an SF when it averages 55kmph between its origin and destination - not necessarily between two stations. I can point out sectors where non SFEs are faster than normal ME trains.

Last edited by binaiks : 7th May 2009 at 16:26.
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Old 7th May 2009, 23:23   #72
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Binaiks

Speed- Average Speed- Top Speed - Slow speed


If an IR train qualifies as a superfast only from end to end , simple my friend- charge that supplement only for the end to end pax and not between intermediate points.

For me Cantonment is the more convenient station and not City - since I am not travelling end to end (instead getting down at the previous stop 2 km away) , let me not pay the 20 Rs SF surcharge since my journey comes under "speed" and not "average speed". I am happy !!!! You are happy!!!




Let us rest it here since the thead is on Volvo bus operators and not Indian Railways . My apologies for an earlier post of mine which got the thread diverted away from the very pertinent subject of the thread (the antics of the Volvo operators).



Back to the topic , it sad that the emphasis on on-time arrivals is no longer a concern for any operator (I guess Kerala RTC may be an exception) on the Kerala Bangalore route. One of the reasons I guess is is most of the bus pax are from the IT/BPO crowd (for whom a 9 AM office start may not be the case always) and also the fact that most of the crowd gets down at Madivala. I am yet to find a single operator who reaches Bangalore City (Majestic or Kalasipalayam) consistently by 7 AM. Mostly Bangalore at 7 Am is "Madivala or Silk Board: at 7.30 Am" for these guys! I did ask my bus booking agent once about this and he says it is from a safty perspective. No early arrival due to the fact that may bus pax are women travelling alone and public transport gets going in Bangalore only after 7 AM.

I guess fair enough, but for "non IT/Non "madivala" blokes like me, I guess the Sunday evening Ernakulam Bangalore " superfast" is the only option.

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Old 8th May 2009, 09:41   #73
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Back to the topic , it sad that the emphasis on on-time arrivals is no longer a concern for any operator (I guess Kerala RTC may be an exception) on the Kerala Bangalore route. One of the reasons I guess is is most of the bus pax are from the IT/BPO crowd (for whom a 9 AM office start may not be the case always) and also the fact that most of the crowd gets down at Madivala. I am yet to find a single operator who reaches Bangalore City (Majestic or Kalasipalayam) consistently by 7 AM. Mostly Bangalore at 7 Am is "Madivala or Silk Board: at 7.30 Am" for these guys! I did ask my bus booking agent once about this and he says it is from a safty perspective. No early arrival due to the fact that may bus pax are women travelling alone and public transport gets going in Bangalore only after 7 AM.
More than the "non-9AM" office types, the emphasis for most private operators is a delayed departure from Kerala. It is a kind of psychological "blackmail" to let people spend more time at their home and start late from home. Typically, most private buses leave only around 2100 from EKM. I am sure these private agents never bother about "safety" and that is clear from the kind of shabby places they stop for dinner or for breaks.

It is only the government operators who seem to be arriving Bangalore on time. The Karnataka SRTC has introduced a new volvo service from EKM at 1830. This bus, according to them, would reach Bangalore at 0430. (Always add an hour to Ka.SRTC's timings).

Otherwise, the best option always is Kerala SRTC. Their AC buses (barring the Ernakulam-Bangalore services) reach Bangalore max by 7 AM (Bangalore, here is Kempegowda Bus Station).
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Old 8th May 2009, 13:27   #74
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OT : I remember as a kid we had taken one of the package tours from Panicker Travels in Delhi to Rishikesh & Haridwar. We were asked to wait at near Mayur Vihar for a 9 PM pick up. Delhites would know this, now once all the picks up are completed the bus would go until the Delhi - UP border only to stop there and wait till 12 AM in the night. Reason being they have to pay tax for 2 days if they are to cross over the state border before 12 AM. You would have a convoy of buses parked on the sides of the road, almost all of them part of the package tour conducted by various travels, invariably all of them waiting for the 12 AM deadline. Can you beat that.

Dont know if it still exists.
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Old 8th May 2009, 16:25   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by binaiks
psychological "blackmail" to let people spend more time at their home
regular travellers will not feel such a thing;I Suppose
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