No way to travel

Holiday Rush

No way to travel

Most schools and colleges are closed for Christmas and New Year and people have already chalked out elaborate plans to make the most of the holidays. Trains, buses and flights to Kerala, Mumbai, Kolkata, Patna and Chennai have registered the maximum number of bookings.

However, a number of travellers have been facing a lot of problems as seats on buses and trains have been booked well in advance. Those lining up at the last minute to book tickets have been forced to look for alternate options.

Adding to these woes is the last minute cancellation of flights by SpiceJet, which has come as a shock to many travellers who had booked their tickets months ago. They rue that they aren’t getting tickets on trains or buses and have to either cancel their plans or travel by road.

Rashmi Hegde, a software engineer, says she was supposed to travel to Kolkata for Christmas and booked the tickets on SpiceJet much in advance. “It’s terrible that SpiceJet has cancelled so many flights. I live in the City by myself and I was looking forward to this vacation. I am not getting tickets on trains as everything is booked up. Looks like I have to cancel my vacation plans,” she laments.

Himanshu Sachan, an employee with Intel Security, says he booked two tickets on SpiceJet in May when there was an attractive offer. He and his wife were supposed to go in March (next year) for Holi and now with cancellations, Himanshu says that he will not only lose his money but has to find an alternative transport or drop his plans altogether.

“This will be our first Holi after marriage and we were really hoping to be with our families. Now with the cancellations, it is difficult for us to get tickets,” says Himanshu. He adds, “Looks like the other airlines are taking advantage of the situation and hiked their prices. We aren’t getting tickets on trains as well. This is quite disappointing.”

The situation isn’t different for those who are trying to get last minute train and bus tickets.

Rajeev, another software professional whose father is seriously ill, says he has been trying to rush to Kerala but hasn’t been lucky enough to get tickets either by bus or train. “All the tickets on trains and buses have been sold out. I will now have to take a bus that connects from one City to another which is definitely going to be a tedious and tiring affair,” concludes Rajeev.

None of the officials with the SpiceJet wished to comment on the current situation. But a statement issued by SpiceJet says that it is now able to take bookings through the end of the current schedule, which is March 28, 2015.  The temporary restriction of 30 days that was imposed on December 5 has been relaxed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Buses too have been booked and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) officials have confirmed that they have had to bring an additional fleet of buses to clear the holiday rush to Chennai, Kerala and Coimbatore.

KS Vishwanath, General Manager traffic (KSRTC) says, “There will be a 20 per cent hike in the ticket rates only for the extra buses. The hike is because most of these buses have to return empty.” He adds that they always managed to bring in extra buses to accommodate even the last minute bookings.

AK Agarwal, divisional railway manager, South Western Railways, Bangalore division, points out that trains towards Jaipur, Patna, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Kerala, like Kochuveli and Kurla, are all booked and the waiting lists are rather long.

“Compared to last year, there is a 13 to 14 per cent increase in this year’s booking. The maximum waiting list that can be extended for any train is 300 and nothing can be done if the number exceeds. This year, we haven’t been able to put in any additional coaches because most of the coaches are full to the maximum capacity of 24. We can’t exceed that,” explains Agarwal. He concludes saying that even the unreserved compartments are always overflowing with people.

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