Technology start-up RailYatri.in, which builds social apps for train travelers, provides insights into how Indian Railways charges travellers, thereby lending a helping hand in managing travel costs better. For this purpose, it has launched yet another feature, ‘Fare Calculator’, that provides users with a clear understanding of the division of fares, leading to making smarter, cost-effective travel plans.
Compulsory catering charges on premium trains have been a bit of a black box, with most travelers unaware of how they are being charged. Despite traveling on Indian Railways regularly, not many know how the actual calculations are done. RailYatri’s ‘Fare Calculator’ feature addresses this issue and gives a detailed break-up of the total fare including the division of the catering charges.
Here are 4 easy steps to get the train fare break-up:
1. From the main menu, select Fare Calculator
2. Enter the train no.
3. Check out the complete list of stoppages and their fares
4. Click on the fare to get the complete beak-up.
The table below shows (a) the number of meals that are served (b) the duration during which a meal is served.
Is the food worth the cost?
If you are traveling with children above 5 years, then catering cost can be over 40% of the travel cost. Isn’t that surprising? Remember that there are no age concessions on catering charges. A family of 4 would spend Rs. 2000 on compulsory catering, whether or not you avail the service. Given that families spend extra on non-pantry food, one needs to factor the total spend, before deciding on the train.
Break-up of Catering / Non-catering costs on 12434-Chennai Rajdhani
Believe it or not, there are errors in the amount calculated for Catering. For example, the ticket cost on 12431-TVC Rajdhani from Trivandrum to Vadodara includes the cost of 2nd morning’s breakfast, even though the train reaches Vadodara late night at 3:30am.
Check this out on the ticketing website – From Trivandrum (TVC) to Vasai Road (BSR), which falls just before Vadodara, the catering charges is Rs 380. However, if you check up to Vadodara this increases to Rs. 455 (due to breakfast), even though no breakfast is served between Vasai Road to Vadodara.
Here is table:
Adds Kapil Raizada from RailYatri.in, “It’s a bit surprising that despite millions of users buying tickets, nobody has raised this issue till now.
How many meals are you paying for?
The other problem, as per RailYatri.in, is the number of meals chargeable during a journey. There is no published documentation on the time duration, during which a meal is to be served.
Lunch is not charged until a journey goes beyond 1:10pm, as that seems to be the starting time for serving lunch. For example, passengers on 12424 NDLS-DBRT Rajdhani boarding at NDLS are not charged for lunch if they alight at New Cooch Behar (NCB) where the train arrives at 1:10pm. However, on 12019 Howrah-Ranchi Shatabdi Express, passengers to Ranchi have to pay for lunch (Rs. 125 per traveler), the train terminating Ranchi at 1:10pm hrs.
In both cases, passengers leave the train at 1:10pm. Except when the alighting station is an intermediate station lunch is not added to the fare, but when the alighting station is the last station, then lunch is charged.
Why? Perhaps because this is the last station, so there is no further opportunity to charge travelers. It’s time travelers turn cautious and raise these issues so that the concerned authorities can address these. This is not an off-hand instance, as a similar case happens on Chennai Rajdhani, where all passengers up to Chennai are charged dinner where the train arrives at8:15pm.
In cases of bundled pricing, travelers need to be cautious about what they are paying for and getting in return. Bundled pricing helps ensure that revenue is collected upfront. With no regulator to monitor and little transparency, the onus is on passengers to get the answers. Once you understand the charges, you may be better off deciding which train to plan your next journey on.